Unlocking Cultural Agility with Marco Blankenburgh

Building Cultural Bridges Through Sports with Apollo Perelini

December 05, 2021 KnowledgeWorkx Season 1 Episode 4
Building Cultural Bridges Through Sports with Apollo Perelini
Unlocking Cultural Agility with Marco Blankenburgh
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Unlocking Cultural Agility with Marco Blankenburgh
Building Cultural Bridges Through Sports with Apollo Perelini
Dec 05, 2021 Season 1 Episode 4

Send us a Text Message.

Join Apollo Perelini and Marco as they explore the bridge building power of rugby across cultures. 

Apollo Perelini is a former professional dual-code international rugby union and rugby league footballer. Now he is the High Performance Manager of the United Arab Emirates’ Rugby Federation. In 2021, he organized the first ever friendly match with the national rugby teams of Israel and the United Arab Emirates. 

Learn more about Apollo’s work at aprsa.com 

In this episode, you will learn about-- 

  •  The role culture plays in sports: from the players’ culture they bring with them, to the team culture they join, to the culture of the sport as a whole. 
  •  What being a high-performance team really means. 
  •  How sports can be used to bridge the most divisive cultural gaps. 

| Articles--



-- Brought to you by KnowledgeWorkx.com

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Join Apollo Perelini and Marco as they explore the bridge building power of rugby across cultures. 

Apollo Perelini is a former professional dual-code international rugby union and rugby league footballer. Now he is the High Performance Manager of the United Arab Emirates’ Rugby Federation. In 2021, he organized the first ever friendly match with the national rugby teams of Israel and the United Arab Emirates. 

Learn more about Apollo’s work at aprsa.com 

In this episode, you will learn about-- 

  •  The role culture plays in sports: from the players’ culture they bring with them, to the team culture they join, to the culture of the sport as a whole. 
  •  What being a high-performance team really means. 
  •  How sports can be used to bridge the most divisive cultural gaps. 

| Articles--



-- Brought to you by KnowledgeWorkx.com

it's just a game that brings people

together you know

irrespective of the cultures

irrespective of their beliefs it doesn't

matter whether believe in god or not or

or they'll have you know whether you're

a muslim or a christian

it brings you together

in a sport that

really tests you physically

mentally but more importantly



welcome to the cultural agility podcast

where we explore the stories of some of

the most advanced intercultural

practitioners from around the world to

help you become culturally agile and

succeed in today's culturally complex


i'm your host marco vlankenberg

international director of knowledgeworks

where every day we help individuals and

companies achieve relational success in

that same complex


well welcome to this podcast

and a special welcome to apollo ferlini

i'm so happy that you're able to join us

on this podcast ever since we met for

the first time i was just yeah

captivated by your story just your your

life story

and the way that you have used sports as

a vehicle both your passion but also as

a really intentional way to to work with

people all around the world

so um i don't want to introduce you i

think you're much better at introducing

yourself so welcome to the show and look

forward to hear from you good to be here

and um i think when we first met

it was um

it was a lovely chat just to get to know

each other but also just uh you know i

think we've both had those journeys you

know where

we don't live in our home countries and

we're both away we're just visitors here

and i think it's all part and parcel of

our journey and but and that's all that

adds on to our story um

apollo guerrilla and um i'm of uh samoan

descent in the south pacific um born in


and raised and we moved to new zealand

at a very young age um i'm the youngest

of eight kids there's four of us boys

and four girls

and mom and dad found it was important

to move to new zealand again for better

opportunities a better life

back in summer we pretty much lived on

a uh

lived off the land

and paris we had a plantation

we had a lot of land and um basically

lived off the land and

mum and dad decided that we needed to


the direction in which the children grew


and so moving to new zealand was a um

was that advancement for our family

right and

changing our culture was going to be the

challenge right and moving to new

zealand and at the time

mum and dad was more focused on just in

employment and kids to go into the new

zealand school education


that's how it was for us kids and

we loved it and we love that we're

thankful for

for our parents for

taking their risk and jumping and

really um

helping us to start a

i guess a


a few

rungs up the ladder right

as you say

and um and i guess then it was my

opportunity to then

continue that journey and continue their

story of moving another run up a few

ladders so that my kids have a better

better start to their life

it sounds like moving to new zealand

that's a new you were alluded to it new

cultural environment so

how old were you when you guys moved

well i was around about three when i

moved so it was very young and and when

we moved to

to auckland new zealand um

my siblings were went straight into


school life was a lot better for and

like when you've got when you when you

say intercultural

yeah there's a lot more we have

in samara it was just some odds

you know your own kind but um

in auckland new zealand it was probably

the most multicultural sort of

city in in new zealand and

there were other pacific islanders a lot

of other european

people and there was a big a lot of

mixes and cultures and um in auckland

especially in auckland


in schools where it all started and

it was great you know and then

mixing with different cultures

again was a challenge to how do we keep

our own culture as well as adapt to

and accept other cultures as well

because um

everybody did

things differently we did things

differently to

to the europeans and and then we are

very similar to the tongans and the

fijians and

to uh

you know the maoris were the indigenous

peoples of

new zealand were very similar

but cultures were still different yeah

and auckland is a very multicultural

city in and of itself now um

you're in the world of sports today

but how did you get into it was this

like a

one of your first loves when you were a

kid or how did you roll into into the

world of sports well it was interesting

because sports not a um

growing up in that era

sports weren't wasn't regarded as a

profession it was always regarded as a


something that you did in your spare

time and and so my parents never really

pushed me into sports we kind of found

it because that's where you

gain friends

and i

when i started school i realized that um

everybody that

wide variety of sports

but the main sport in new zealand at the

time was still is is rugby right and so

eric played rugby and every patch of

grass there was always a rugby game

going on and even on the tennis courts


going on

and if you didn't have a rugby ball you

use a shoe you know and

just no kicking because

you can't kick a shoe but um

yeah you grew up just playing the sport

that everybody else did and it was a way


integrating it was a way of um gaining

new friends especially at my age growing

up at a very young age especially

from different cultures you did mix with

other cultures and that was

a starting point and sport has always

played a

major part of my life because it's

especially team sports

and because i guess it um

teamsports kind of prepares you for life

you know there's all sorts of

parallels of sports and and i gained

that very early

in in my life and playing rugby and um

and that was my game and that was my

game that i grew to loving and i still

coach it right yeah you know

as a national coach for uae

and also as a form one professional and


rugby player


the sports kind of gave you values

values to live off

and so

so that's how i got into to directly but

it wasn't the flavor of of every pacific

island family because you weren't there

for sport you were there to

one education and to make a living right

and so mum and dad actually banned

sports for for a bit you know wow so

my my siblings my our oldest siblings

were were kind of

told not to join clubs or not not to be

part of a sports team he had to to

go to school and then once you graduated

from school and then find a job

you need to make a living you need to

put food on the table and have a roof

over your head and maintain a roof over

your head and



that's how my older siblings were sort


were instructed right

but i was the youngest of eight so by

the time i kind of

came into the that sporting world where

mom and dad kind of ignored me and


i'm not like pretty much do what he


i think that's a common theme in

families where the rules become less and

less applied

with the younger ones yeah yeah because

it was slightly blurred those rules were

slightly bird but by the time i came

sort of was interested in sport and so

now i always tell the story to a lot of

kids that you know appreciate what your

parents do because my parents never it's

not that they didn't love me they loved

me and um you know unconditionally but

but they didn't have an appreciation of

sports because they didn't grow up with


they grew up plantations yeah they grew

up living off the land and so


sports became a priority in my own

personal life

in high school and in school

mum and dad didn't see it as important

to support that and so



didn't watch me play rugby at all my

whole life until i represented new

zealand at in under 20s and my parents

actually came out to watch me represent

a country

and you know shocked to them they were


you're all bad at the sport


but the sport eventually took you

international right yes yeah and yeah so


can you just a mini version yeah of the

you know how what happened you you ended

up at national level but it also took

you overseas oh absolutely um and i

think that was

well though my dad always says yeah

you're never going to get in well you

know what are you going to do with that

sport and then i do remember a teacher

actually said to me saying to me i think

i was

in sixth form he says you never get in

life playing rugby you get anywhere in

life playing rugby and i

and at that time he was right

and just i was fortunate to land on my

feet when they became professional and

that you can earn out of it

and i was playing um

internationally at uh for new zealand at

age grade and then um i got the

opportunity to represent um

i was asked by the samoan rugby union if

i would represent someone at the

1991 world cup


although my father and mother weren't

big supporters of the sport because i

was representing

their country of origin yeah the samara


became passionate about that they said

oh please go represent you represent our

country right so i ended up representing

someone that's kind of put me on the map

and and


in that world cup i played very well and

we made the quarterfinals for the first

first time ever


and we were just a small island from the

pacific and we made the quarterfinals

was shocking the world and eating whales

and and argentina and


was selected

as part of the

world cup fifth nation and

from there people started to notice me


and then another sport called rugby

league came along and um said


we pay to play

would you like to come and play

elsewhere but you can't make 11. you

can't make a living out of it and i was


oh dear and rugby union was amateur at

the time so no one was getting paid so

when i went to rugby league it was

professional in in the uk right and the

uk club came

to me approached me sent me a fax with

at the time effectively and um got an

offer to

to move to saint helens regularly which

is in just

west of manchester and um

in north of england and so i decided to

go for it and um

never turned back and that's what took

me overseas and

and i guess when i look at that journey

i think you know making that bold

jump was similar to my dad making mom

and dad making the ball jump to move to

heart to new zealand for a better life

yeah so

so that's where why we ended up i ended

up in

1994 in the uk and

got married we moved over there we had

two lovely kids

in the uk


then i went i stayed seven years in that

sport and then i went back to rugby

union and played

continue to play for summer and then

played for manchester uh south sharks

and then

retired in 2000 end of 2002

when his coaching and

i've been in coaching ever since and

then that coaching

experience brought me to dubai


which i

became a director of sports for a large

british school here international

british school and then i took up the

position as uae

um high performance director and head


for uae rugby


uae and rugby yeah a country in the

arabian world

for most people listening those two

don't go together




how does the uae actually even have a

national rugby team well liam

they they

the uae rugby federation was founded in



and um

and they brought in coaches and it was

predominantly expat it was an um expect

community that kind of um

built that and then

when the uae


took over

running it

from a

sporting perspective as a the sports

governing body

and they took over and therefore

needed people to come in

and run it

although they had

expat community and and also locals were

starting to get interested in it you

know there's football there's handball

there's basketball but

now um we have over 100 emiratis playing


which is and i have an emirati

national team and i also have an expat

national team excellent yeah that's how


yeah yeah no that's uh that's quite a

quite a shift from uh soccer b is still

the main sport right in the ua yeah that

dominates dominates dominates everything

it actually creates it through around

the world yeah and the interesting thing

is that i

i never looked beyond your

major countries like your your british

countries and your southern hemisphere

australasian countries like new zealand


but when you come to somewhere like uae

it's not until you get to get out to

places like sudan



uzbekistan and

all those countries they all have rugby

wow and the people who play rugby are

passionate about rugby you know i just

come back from kazakhstan and you

wouldn't never thought that they play

rugby but between them kyrgyzstan and

uzbekistan they have this big rivalry of

rugby rivalry and oh my going gee

wow and so um so it creates actually

very interesting travel opportunities i

assume as well yeah yeah yeah

at the same time you know on the one

hand it sounds like even just having a

rugby team or multiple teams in the uae

which is a very culturally diverse


on the other hand you know creating

opportunities in the in the region

to travel to meet teams from other

countries at the same time you know you

watch tv and you watch the world of


not everybody's always happy about all

this intercultural mixing yeah even when

you look at some of the soccer teams or

even that on on on qriket pitches i've

seen it


not everybody's happy about this

multi-colored yeah

team mixing uh

what have what has been your experience

i think this is why um

rugby is so unique in the sense of and

we we call it unique because it has

values there's a there's a certain

because it was always played by a

gentleman yeah



it's a gentleman's game that was it

started in the um you know the south of

england played it was an upper class it

was a white collar sport

and as a white collar sport it was

always regarded that everything

you behave like a gentleman when no

referees make a call

it's referee's always right you know


these are saying that um the referee is

there's two things in life that you

can't change and one is the weather and

and two is referee's decision and and so

we always

talk about that that uh those values


to woven into the game

so that the the cultural values of um

that's respecting of the cultures and

that when we when we travel there's

we always

make sure that there's a

we mix

that you know it doesn't matter what

happens on the field but when you walk

off the field there's uh there's that um

there's an appreciation for cultures and

appreciation for um the people that

you've gone into battle with

and if you see the the new zealand haka

everybody always kind of think that's a

war dance it's actually a challenge


it's a traditional

way of saying

we welcome the challenge um

we welcome the challenge

today we go to battle but tomorrow

you know we'll be friends you know and

so that new zealanders probably you know

the pacific islands and new zealand take

their culture with them they don't leave

it back in new zealand so the haka is

part and parcel of


the makeup of the game within new

zealand samoa fiji thomas so

their cultural warrior

challenge is

is a sign of respect and for you to

stand in front of a

new zealand hutter


it's a sign of respect to say

we accept the challenge

let's go to war

yeah on the field

that's good and then the respect is

there and you see after every game

is um we form

form tunnels

and people don't do it and then

after you you play the game the the host

team will

form a tunnel for the

travelling team and um visiting team

will go through the tunnel and they'll

clap you and then vice versa then we'll

form a tunnel and then they'll walk

through and you know and there'll be

hugs and shakes and and these

we leave we leave the result on the



what happens on the field stays on the

field and yeah right in respect it was

always and that's part part of parcel or

the values and

that's why i always say the culture of



supersedes the

the culture of countries you know

the the culture of sports kind of

takes over and


rugby has a very unique culture

it's fascinating because

that's in essence that's really profound

that that

you're saying the culture of the sport

supersedes but then also on top of that

you're saying rugby has has it has a

deeper value set

historically that it has that has been

maintained yeah um

so if if the culture of the support

supersedes how have you seen rugby used

to build bridges between people

between nations between people from

different backgrounds yeah because of


the game

and because of the values of the games

that you know the the respect you know

the loyalty to

what the game symbolizes that it brings

people together and in

the world cup

national anthem for the world cup for

rugby world cup is something like world

emotion where it's everybody's united

it's like a


anthem of uh unity

um and that when we go to all these

countries we take our culture the

culture of rugby which is respect

and and that doesn't matter how old you

are how

new to the game that our culture of and

values of the game

we push on to them

you know put aside your differences push

put aside

how you feel about that person you know


somehow and you always used to go to war

against each other you know in in the

old days or when it came to rugby it was

very very different you played within

the rules

you respected them and then

you all come together and after a game

and you mixed

and there's there's always a that we

always have what we call the aftermath

function yeah which makes you make

friends right and that's how um

if you look at um

if you look at football

they have to segregate spectators right

you know if you're if you're from one

day if you're from liverpool and

manchester you're playing in liverpool

you go to your stand you're your side

and you don't mix you know

people don't mix in in rugby you mix

it doesn't matter where you

from you you know

to your opposing teams

you could be set next to each other yeah


recently in the in the middle east some

pretty spectacular agreements have been

signed between countries that nobody was


and uh rugby had a role to play in

bringing countries together yes and you

told me some of the story i thought it

was fascinating but yeah can you share a

little bit of what happened how did the

world of rugby become part of bringing

countries together in this region yeah


after the there's an agreement between

um the uae and and israel uh signed

called the um abrahamic accord

and um

and i thought it was an advantage to

bring the two cultures but they had

they've never ever played against each


never competed in any sport against each

other so

i was

drink over it i made contact with their

coach who was um

south african you know and and i'm

someone just said you know and we

started talking and said

why don't we make this happen

now that we've signed this agreement why

do we make a game let's please play a

game and he said you know what you know

let's bring them together because our

value supersedes the

differences they have

the game isn't it's all about the game

yeah it's all about the game

we're not we're not going to be

political with it we're not going to go

sort of um

cultural with it we're just going to go

and play the game

see what's true and so we we

we made an agreement and then um we

proposed it to both unions and uh my

bosses said why not wow

that's awesome and then

by then we had to get permission from

the government

so we couldn't just

agree as a

rugby federation we had to then get

permission from the general authorities

and the government

to say it was okay you know because it's

still in the eyes of other countries

this was not um a good thing yeah

and you know so

considering what was happening in

palestine at the time yeah and you know


they gave us the the the green light to

go ahead and so we did and the amazing

thing was that

when we had it all signed off everybody

was in shock that this was going to


for me personally i kind of thought wow

this is historical but

i kind of it

it is a big thing

but for me it was like yeah but this is


this is what we do in rugby this is this

is what we do this is what rugby does to

countries we bring people together

to play a game sport that we love yeah

um to everybody else was a big big thing

you know

it's a lot of the arabs to

to the israelis it was was the jews were

involved were very very you know were

like excited about the whole thing yeah

everybody got excited there was a big

press even the uh um i think the

president almost

one of the two that um he

got onto a big screen and uh and and

they put it on a big screen at the game

it was at sports city just here in dubai

so the game happened here in dubai in

uae okay in dubai and um

so we we flew them over and um

they stayed locally and we played two


one game was

israel versus uae

the second game

was played where we mixed the two teams

and we called it

the sons of abraham so the sons of

abraham cup we mixed the two team evenly

and they

were trained the day before

as a mixed team we said these are your

team this is

sons of abraham blues and zahabrahim



so straight after they played the israel

versus um uae they israel won they went

back into change rooms for another 45

minutes got changed got together as a

team they came out and that was the main

game wow the sons of abraham cup was the

main game it wasn't the israel versus



and when they played it was just amazing

the the camaraderie the

the respect the the cultures were mixed

but they were loving it you know um

and um it was funny there's times there

where a couple of the locals were

calling things out in an israeli you

know and and then

some of the israeli boys were

uh speaking some arabic you know it was

it was just it was so funny yeah and i

just said

that was cool that was really cool and i

stood there with with their coach in

south africa we stood there and halfway

left looked at each other and said

this is pretty cool

and he said we're supposed to we take

this for granted we're just looking at

it but we're just creating history you

have you you indeed and and so when when

did this happen

this happened in


back in february

now bringing

a team like you know bringing teams

together like that obviously you don't

just play two matches there's there's

other things happening around the game

what were some of the other activities

that you organized we um we did what we

called a

modulus experience

which is the we took them out to the


and our local players we

decided that we'll do a proper

experience for

the israel team

to show them what the culture is the

cultural side of uae arabs

the emiratis and um and they were

fascinated because

the the interesting comments they came

from because we went out to them there

was a desert medullus and there was food

put on and um

and the local boys will take them out

there and they'll be in all in there the

candoras whereas the

israelis will all be in jeans and a polo

top you know yeah

and they were very surprised to see all


this it's just your national awareness

and this is what we wear yeah

he says oh do you wear jeans and shorts

yeah we do but this is our traditional

way we wear this all the time yeah on a

daily basis

so they were shocked

and this is odd this is amazing being

out in the distance this is what we do

on a regular basis

and we know that living in dubai that in

the weekends you see

all the locals go out um put up a tent

and they sit on a fire and they just

have something to eat and they

that's how they socialize

from a cultural perspective and the

comment that came from the

israeli boys was that we've come from

the same culture

we come from the same family and we're

all sons of abraham but yet we don't

practice what you know where we've come

from these guys are still although they

live in villas and they drive around and

flash cars and

so you so-called uae dubai fashion

but they still


in that nomadic way that they live and

yeah you know back in thousands of years


they still practice that you know they

still enjoy it which israelis felt we

don't do that um so so when you think

about the conversations you know around

the campfire

hanging out together after the match um

what were some of the the

lessons that they have learned from each

other what were some of the things that

they were saying yeah they

really appreciate each culture

they're all very

pretty much the same

you know they they laughed at the same

jokes they were they were mixed they

were all on different tables together

you know they they didn't just sat

together as they didn't sit in their own

groups they they all mixed you know

there was a nice mixture and they all

ate together and they um

and i always said like friends always

always eat together

and they said that when you

come together

with food that shows you that shows true

friendship and um and that's a new bond

that you've gained with with that person

so for them to sit and eat and with the

great thing is that all of them were

eating their hands you know

um there's

not many people using the the

knives and forks it was just hands you

know just like they

traditionally it was nice and was and

the conversation was all about

what do you do from a normal day mm-hmm

how do you live your lives you know

where you know


um it was a lovely cultural exchange


realizing that that made friends and

their stay friends that's awesome and i

guess with the

social media and that and and the

platforms that you have now you know

these guys are now lifelong friends

and will it continue we want to continue

this and we've spoken about

us going there and um

i was going there and playing the the

exchange in um in tel aviv so that's on

the that's on that's on the cards at the

moment they're probably next year

sometime either in march

march april uh where i'll take a team to

um tel aviv for for that

same exchange but

we'll also take a woman's team fantastic

so the the women's would love to go and

they were a bit jealous that this was

set up just for the boys and i said well

photos of abraham will start

why not why not why not

and i can tell you know the audience

can't see this because it's an audio

recording but

this puts a big smile on your face

yeah it does so

what could you describe that what does

it do to you i guess

as a as as a christian we

you know we live a life of you know

believing in a god that we don't see and

believe in and having faith in

in the stories and and that we're told



that you know of of israel and the arabs

versus you know the the jews and and

when you read and read that and when you


this whole unity coming together

you feel

gee i've had a

big part to play in this you know it

wasn't just something small i i do take

it for granted sometimes because i i

just think oh well

it's just rugby

and it's the reason why i always say

well it's just a game um it's just a


that brings people together you know

irrespective of the cultures

irrespective of their beliefs it doesn't

matter whether believe in god or not or

or they'll have you know whether you're

a muslim or a christian

it brings you together

in a sport that

that really tests you physically

mentally but more importantly

spiritually you know and i always say

that and i said look

the game of rugby is so

um it tests you in all areas

that you know you you do sometimes

when you when i say spiritually and i

said how often have we

dug so deep that you just think there's

going to be a greater being that helps

me through this


yeah so when you when you think about


you know you're in the uae

um it sounds like there's tons to do for

you here

lots of uh you know bigger ideas even

just taking the abrahamic cup further


what what do you see in the future

yeah marco i think a lot of what i've

kind of

see that

i want to do more of it you know again

over these last few years it's been

helping develop the game right be within

the the region the asia region and the

centuries uh eurasia


i'm a what you call a coach educator um

for the game of rugby

and but a lot of the things that i do is

is more of uh

you coach rugby but you also coach what

the um

the the values the behaviors

and when i talk about values i talk

about behaviors and how we behave

as rugby players and and the

expectations of the game


doing the abrahamic cup and growing that

even more is

just part of that story that i that i

want to sort of

imprint in my life and say that was that

was a something that i didn't do on my

own you know

and as as a christian i always say

you're in a place


sometimes you don't choose to be in

their place but god puts you in a place

for a reason

you know and and it's amazing that a lot

of my christian friends always says

gee you're there for a reason bro

still more work to do yeah yeah you're

still doing you're doing good but um

yeah but

more importantly i want to use my um my

rugby experience my sporting experience

and use the

i guess the the transferable skills that

i have to

to help people yeah

and you mentioned to me as well that you

know the whole value system things you

learn about your life about

collaborating about resolving conflict

there's all these lessons that rugby


and uh

you're bringing that outside the sport

as well um to you know into the business

world even or you know

tell me a little bit more about that

because i think that's a beautiful

extension of all the years of experience

that you have yeah and

i always see the transferable skills

that we have and but the transfer

experiences i always call them

experiences and the experiences i have

and into the game or sport it doesn't

matter what sport you have

the same experiences you have within the

corporate world you know there are there

are teams within teams within teams and


and in the game in the sport any any

team sport there's not just one team

within that team there's is multiple

teams within the teams and so

when i start to

break that up

and put it in the context of

business life

it's it starts to resonate with people

and when it starts to resonate with

people and

for me it was more or less


i i kind of um stumbled over it when

when people started asking me for for


how would you do this from a high

performance team

you're a high performance high

performance manager

you work with high performance teams um


do you do that

what are the um what are the skills that

you're looking for from a high


what key ingredients does

a high

team require

in order to perform at the highest level

but i think this is where the the

there's always a um it's

i always say look

misinterpretation or uh the the the

perception there was always a perception


when i asked people when you say high


what what do you mean high performance


you see me as a high performance coach

but what do you mean by high performance

what do you perceive as high performance

and people always call it elite top w


work at the top of the game performing

at the top of your game

the beak

and i said no i said for me perform what

is this high performance for me it's


i said when when you hit high

performance you see you're developing

right it's all development

high performance is about working


performing at your peak right it's not

high performance doesn't mean that

you're at your peak

the high performance is the processes

the ingredients of to reach peak


so when i talk about high performance

when when i look at my job i always look

at it from a development uh spectacles i

look at it from those lenses in this

development so when i see

a player at the top of their game i

changed the game

and that's that's profound because you

know in the corporate world you hear

people talk a lot about high-performing


but typically they say okay can you do a

one-day workshop for us

and make it happen you know

uh and what you're saying really you

know high performance is almost like a


that is not developed overnight yes it's

a it's a journey that you need to be on


just listening to you just the the sport

of rugby also brings a culture with it

that then creates a place where you can

start developing

and that's what i often miss actually in

in business teams that they don't take

the culture of of the team serious

enough they just say you know make us


um and it doesn't happen unless you have

a solid bedrock of culture that allows

you to do that because i think you know


problem with corporates is that

it's uh sometimes people look at it as

from a dog eat dog wheeled and it's


you try and perform on your own

it's all about you it's all about it's

all about you if

if you put your best foot forward you'll

achieve this and you'll get the

promotion that's all that's all it is

whereas from a

sporting perspective

if i perform the team performs right so

we all perform we all we all

love that if we

if we all come together we we win

if we all perform as individuals doing

our own thing we lose the team falls

apart falls apart yeah so



when you look at that you need to change

the mindsets of

of the corporate companies



what their cultures are

what does their culture reflect you know

i always say what is your cultural

reflex in your company and and often

oh these are our values oh look at our

10 15 billion okay

oh great i mean those do you remember

those can you actually um sort of is out

working in your life right now you know

you know

not just remember them but actually

apply it apply them

yeah and apply them so that everybody

actually knows what is expected from

yeah yeah and that's why i always say to


with my teams is

behaviors are so important because of

behaviors are the

visible sometimes

behaviors and the um

is that um they're measurable


values are hard to measure

whereas behaviors are miserable

and that

when someone's being honest and and um


somebody's been vulnerable yep and you

can see that and when somebody's when

somebody's late

he's not behaving within our culture

somebody doesn't um when somebody um

falls out with somebody else and doesn't

resolve it within a certain time period

he's not behaving within our team

culture yeah you know we always say look

if you've got any differences with

somebody sort it out

because the other day we go into the

trenches together we're gonna fight that

battle together we're gonna be in war

together or we're wearing the same

beautiful yeah so it's important that

you need to sort out your differences

and so that's really key and

it's the same in the corporate world

yeah but we need to change the mindsets

of individuals in order for them to work

collectively as a unit

anybody who's interested in that part of

your story will make sure that

contact details for apollo are available

so you'll find them at the bottom of the


i have tons of additional questions i

wanted to ask maybe we need to do a part


but uh yeah we're ahead of time uh it's

fascinating thank you so much for coming

in i've really enjoyed this conversation

it's inspiring

and it also shows that there are

unexpected ways in our world to bring

people together that really like you

said create friendships for life yeah

and uh so thank you for sharing your

stories thank you for what you're doing

for the uae as a country because i think

you know you're just saying it's just a


this is significant it yeah it's history

in the making so uh thank you for for

investing your life into that

and um yeah i hope we will have another

opportunity in the future to talk some

more oh definitely i i

more than happy to to to come down and

have these these conversations you know


casual chats as we kind of

catch up to catch up thank you marco and

uh really thank you and i know that all

you listeners out there you know

we sometimes

we we chase dreams and change dreams but

uh if we don't have a goal and a vision

to achieve that dreams you know we we

kind of chase it aimlessly and we talk

about that with within our rugby team

we've got to have a goal we've got to

set our goals regularly you know long

term short term and even micro um goals

in their daily uh we have daily goals

and then i give players what can they

achieve today

and then so

so those dreams are only just dreams if

you don't you know work towards them and

uh yeah

and wish you all the best thank you

thank you so much

thank you so much for joining us for

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