You must dream, believe in them and work tirelessly to achieve them, said world-renowned Gabonese footballer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in his powerful message to the Commonwealth’s 1.5 billion young people.
Speaking at a Marlborough House Get-Together event on 19 May 2023 in London, held as part of the Commonwealth Year of Youth 2023, Aubameyang told a gathering of young leaders, scholars and changemakers from across the Commonwealth that “you are the future”.
Reflecting on his own challenging journey, Aubameyang shared:
“The beginning of my career was very tough; I had many bad moments. Everyone was telling me that I was not a goal scorer. Those words gave me the power to work even harder to achieve my goals. Today, I am very happy where I am.”
He emphasised the importance of perseverance, continuous self-improvement, a support system and mentorship as crucial factors for personal and professional success.
Throughout his address, the acclaimed footballer touched on a range of topics, including unity, peace, respect, education, diversity, leadership, activism, and family.
He particularly addressed the issue of racism, both on and off the field, urging individuals to speak out against discrimination. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang shared his personal experience, stating:
“I have been through it [racism] myself. We are in 2023. It is time to grow up and time to not be silent about racism … We have to be accountable to each other. We can achieve great things together. The colour of one’s skin does not matter. And I am living proof of this.”
Expressing his deep affection for Gabon, which joined the Commonwealth in 2022, Aubameyang invited participants to explore his central African nation, praising its cuisine and natural beauty.
When questioned about the power of sport as a tool for peace and development, he acknowledged football as a catalyst for unity, capable of bringing people together both inside and outside the stadium. Aubameyang said:
“When you go to a football game, you see thousands of people from different backgrounds cheering for the same team, this is an example of unity which the sport is able to bring about.”
Looking to the future, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang announced plans to establish a football academy for aspiring players while continuing his activism on behalf of Gabon.
Speaking after the event, Commonwealth Assistant Secretary-General Luis Franceschi commended Aubameyang as a powerful role model for young people, who make up 60 per cent of the association’s combined population. He said:
“Aubameyang’s commitment to youth and social inclusion aligns with the Commonwealth values. We hope his inspiring words would serve as a guiding light for young people, encouraging them to pursue their dreams and make even more meaningful contributions to their communities.”
The Marlborough House Get-Together event series serves as a platform to spotlight talented individuals from various fields of expertise in candid conversations to empower young people.
- Snober Abbasi Senior Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
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