Wednesday 24 April 2019

Kevin Doyle: Lofty ideas, big names and a run in with the All Blacks

Opening of the One Young World conference

1. Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg
1. Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg
2. Kevin Doyle with New Zealand star Ma'a Nonu
3. The 'lucky charm' that Ma'a Nonu has said he will way during the All Blacks championship tie with the South Africa on Saturday
4. All Blacks rugby team head for a swim in the same hotel as many of the Irish representatives at the One Young World Conference
5. Clara Kelleher and Valerie McGrane from the Dublin Bid Team for One Young World with Ma'a Nonu

Right now very few people in Ireland know that the movement 'One Young World' exists - but I guarantee that this time next year you will.

Like the latest fashion trend it is set to burst into our consciousness to the point where you will assume that you knew about it all along. 

As I write I'm sitting in Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg with a Goliath-size statue of the man himself looking down on black and white children playing side-by-side in a makeshift urban beach.

It's a fitting setting for the fourth summit of One Young World - an organisation that aims to empower young people to change the world.

That, of course, sounds like a lofty ambition but I'm told that the next four days will change my life. How? I'm not quiet sure but follow this blog and I'll try to give you a blow by blow account - with a few of the bits I'm probably not suppose to report thrown in for good measure.

No youth-dominated event outside the Olympic Games brings together more countries than One Young World.

The roll off the tongue line-up of speakers this week includes Kofi Annan, Bob Geldof, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and Boris Becker.

But there's an X Factor twist: Bob et al are not allowed to hog the mic, they must sit and listen to the over 1,000 delegates aged between 18 and 30.

They will chair sessions where the young people - including 12 Irish representatives - will tell them how they see the world.

At this summit the big wigs are mere 'counsellors' - there to listen and at times advise.

Next year Dublin will host this massive event, using venues like the Convention Centre, Croke Park, the Bord Gais Energy Theatre and Trinity College.

A presidential-style security operation will be in place as world leaders in business, politics and entertainment are whizzed in and out.

And I predict everyone will be talking about One Young World.

The Dublin team's plan is outdo previous hosts Pittsburgh, Zurich and London by bringing on board hundreds of hundreds of volunteers turn our capital in 'the city of a thousand welcomes'.

For the moment back in Johannesburg, preparations are well underway for a spectacular Opening Ceremony of this year's summit in Soccer City tonight.

The Irish tricolour will be carried into the stadium by Kerry woman Grace Earley (20), while we'll also be presented on stage by Boomtown Rat Bob.

As for those sidebars on the 'off-duty' bits of Johannesburg... All Black star Ma'a Nonu has promised to wear a gold shamrock pin when he lines out against the Springboks in Ellis Park on Saturday.

The New Zealand rugby team are staying in the same hotel as many of the Irish representatives and were accosted by OYW ambassador Clara Kelleher, and I have to admit, while taking a break at the pool.

Nonu was more than impressed with his lucky charm but failed to stump up any tickets to the big game.

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