The world could be doing with a few more people like Everton forward, Steven Naismith.
The 27 year-old Scottish international will not be popular in this part of the world because before becoming a Toffee he played for Rangers for five seasons. Tribal allegiances aside for a few moments, Naismith bucks the ugly trend set by many footballers in England.
Instead of engaging in weekend long drunken orgies or gambling his fortune away, Naismith does something that is immeasurably more valuable and that is that he helps others.
Naismith is a proud ambassador for Dyslexia Scotland and at the start of this season he donated tickets to Everton games to Job Centres in Liverpool for unemployed people looking for work.
I’ll hold my hands up and admit that I am guilty of bashing footballers for their pluralistic ways but when I read about someone like Naismith it makes me believe that all is not lost.
Western values are quickly declining and instead of thinking about how we can help others out we are more concerned with measuring our success or popularity with how many ‘likes’ we receive for a picture of a lasagne on Facebook. It really is mind-numbingly depressing.
We’ve become obsessed with making life as painless and as easy for ourselves but increasingly it’s leaving very little room for anything else. Many people, including quite a large number of footballers, have become so self-publicising and self-involved that the concept of giving someone else a spot of help has become, dare I say it, unfashionable.
This, sometimes, ugly demeanour often finds its way on to the football pitch. The way in which some footballers conduct themselves on the field of play lacks respect, decency and integrity. Don’t for one minute think I am calling for football to be void of aggression and bite, after all they are two very important ingredients. Instead, what I would like to see is footballers show more respect for themselves and their colleagues and then perhaps they would think about embracing philanthropy.
Naismith is a wealthy footballer; that’s a given, but surely his wealth provides him with the opportunity to be utterly selfish and like so many of his fellow players, perpetuate the mantra of ‘me, me, me’.
Naismith could very easily opt out of his desire to help others. No one would say a thing. No one would even notice. But he doesn’t. He’s his own man and is not afraid to let his values shine through.
You see, the reason I admire Naismith is because he’s not afraid to be himself. He probably enjoys treating himself to a nice car and going on nice holidays but his sense of perspective means that he’s able to partake in the madness of the materialistic world but still find time and money to help people less fortunate.
Naismith also works to support homeless shelters in both Liverpool and Glasgow - he even paid for homeless people to enjoy a proper Christmas dinner a few years ago. He doesn’t have to do this. It’s not contrived, it’s sincere. Naismith is not some sort of multi-million pound brand that needs to be managed like Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, he’s simply a human being with a big heart.