1980 : How journalism impacts tennis

Jun 7, 2023, 12:30:00 PM

John O'Shea creates the GOAL foundation

The GOAL foundation is one of the best humanitarian aids in the history of tennis. It was established in 1980 by journalist John O’Shea after he met Mother Teresa in Kolkata in 1977. In Mother Teresa: The Irish Connection, writer John Scally wrote that he spent a day visiting a leprosarium with Mother Teresa, and that he was moved by all the love this little woman would give to anyone she met. Scally had never faced so much poverty and asked Mother Teresa if she had ever wondered whether her actions had any impact when she was surrounded by these people. She smiled at him and replied that every day she spent in Kolkata, she would try to find lepers, dying people, or children in distress to lift them up, hug them and give them a kiss. She didn’t know if it was the best thing to do, but she knew it was the right thing to do. These words became John O’Shea’s motto; he founded GOAL when he came back home and hired John McEnroe and Pat Cash as ambassadors. 

For over 45 years, the foundation has helped victims of famines (Uganda in 1979, Ethiopia in 1984, Somalia in 1992), of authoritarian regimes (Cambodia, Iraq, Rwanda, Syria), of ineffective health care systems (Afghanistan, Malawi, Sudan, Congo, Angola), of natural disasters (Sri Lanka in 2004, Haiti in 2010, Nepal in 2015), and of other humanitarian crises in over 60 different countries by supporting them ‘from crisis to resilience’. A tenacious character, O’Shea, who has sometimes been criticized for his convictions and for crossing swords with European governments which he thought were unresponsive when it came to humanitarian aid, is also close friends with Mats Wilander. In December 2015, Wilander talked about the two people who inspired him the most on Tennis.com, the first one being his son Erik. “The other person who altered my worldview is John O’Shea. John was a writer who covered tennis, among other sports, and had been a fine tennis player. We became friends at  a Wimbledon tune-up event I played in Ireland in the mid-1980s. […] Under his leadership, GOAL raised more than one billion dollars, and became known as a first-responding relief organization to natural disasters such as tsunamis. […] John has suffered from cancer for a few years now but he’s still trying to make a difference. He travels and speaks in hopes of transmitting his passion to others. […] I don’t know a better definition of ‘hero’.”