Maranda Pleasant: What makes you come alive?

Yaya Touré: Off pitch, I keep things simple. I enjoy spending time with my family. I never forget my roots and regularly give back to children in West Africa. I support several youth associations, and I am also involved in the protection of the forest in my country [Ivory Coast]. When away from home, I mostly miss people and enjoying a good laugh with my peers.

MP: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be?

YT: Saving the world happens one person at a time. Be at the front of the queue. Each one of us has to work hard to achieve our collective dream for a healthier planet.

MP: Why is protecting the environment personal for you?

YT: The environment is everything that makes up our surroundings and affects our ability to live on the earth – the air we breathe, the water that covers most of the earth’s surface, the plants and animals around us, the overall condition of our planet, and much more. Protecting the environment is really important to everyone’s welfare – that of our children, as well as that of the future generations.

Being one of the “The Elephants” [the Ivory Coast national team] – the magnificent creatures, full of power and grace, yet in my country alone there may be as few as 800 individuals left – I am indeed well placed to fight against poaching. People need to make a stand and be clear that trading in ivory is immoral and unacceptable.

MP: What are some of your biggest concerns right now – endangered species, the climate, etc.

YT: My biggest concern and main engagement with UNEP is focused on endangered species and illegal wildlife trade – mostly elephants, rhinos, etc. Currently poaching threatens the very existence of the African Elephant, and my worry is that if we do not act NOW, we could be looking at a future in which this iconic species is wiped out. The illegal wildlife trade threatens not only the survival of entire species, such as elephants and rhinos, but also the livelihoods and, often, the very lives of millions of people across Africa who depend on tourism for a living.

I also support other United Nations environmental initiatives such as the Food Waste Campaign: Think.Eat.Save and Reduce Your Foodprint.

MP: How do you keep your center in the middle of chaos? Do you have a daily routine?

YT: On the pitch and for life generally, I keep my center by remembering that I am part of a team and if I don’t do my part, I let down not just my team but everyone who follows it.

MP: What’s been one of your biggest lessons so far in your life?

YT: Knowing how lucky I was and how much I wish everyone had the same opportunity.

MP: What truth do you know for sure?

YT: We can all be weak, but we all have to make a conscious decision to be strong.

Sometimes people fail to see that individual decisions have universal consequences.

Time is running out for African Elephants.

MP: Tell me about your latest projects?

YT: 1. As UNEP Goodwill Ambassador for Illegal Wildlife Trade, I have committed to contribute in raising general public awareness, as well as inspiring broad, positive, committed action against illegal trade. It is an on-going and tough fight, but I believe that if we all join our hands, we can conquer!

2. Fighting for the Premier League Trophy, of course.

3. World Cup in Brazil.

Not necessary in that order, but those are my main projects at the moment. And help me kick it at wedchallenge.com. Join my team and Purge Plastics.

Yaya Touré, is an Ivorian international football star who plays as a midfielder for the English Premier League club Manchester City and the Côte d’Ivoire national team, “The Elephants.” He was voted African Footballer of the Year for 2011 and 2012, and Ivorian Footballer of the Year 2008 and 2009. Touré has a distinguished international career with 74 caps for Côte d’Ivoire, representing the team in their first appearance in a FIFA World Cup in 2006, and again in 2010 and 2014. When he is not in the field, Touré has an interest in social and environmental activities. He is married with three children.


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