SPORTS IS MAKING A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE
Edwin Moses, Chairman Of The Laureus Sport For Good Foundation
Founded in 1999, the Laureus World Sports Academy is a unique association of forty-two of the greatest living sporting legends who volunteer their time in this noble cause. Laureus is a worldwide movement that uses the power of sport to bring people together and to effect social change.
As our Patron, Nelson Mandela said at the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000: "Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair." This has become the philosophy of Laureus, and as Academy members we have tried to live up to that creed. More concretely, through the auspices of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, we try to achieve our goals through a worldwide programme of sports-related community development initiatives, using sport as a tool for social change.
Many children grow up not even knowing what kind of opportunities exist because their parents, and even their parents' parents were never given opportunities. It is a self-perpetuating cycle that kids get caught in through no fault of their own. With Laureus we are able to make a difference in their lives. We currently support some sixty projects around the world, and we want to do more. We are ambitious but mindful of the huge challenges we face. As long as there are people willing to give their time and energy to devise these kinds of projects, members of the Laureus Academy will be there to help them.
The range of our work is huge, both in its variety and its geographical spread: we have projects in Northern Ireland designed to bring Nationalist and Unionist children together, in the Middle East to give Israeli and Palestinian youngsters the opportunity to play sport together; in Australia we are at work with Aboriginal children to keep them out of trouble and give them more career opportunities; in India we help kids who live out in the streets; in South Africa we work with AIDS orphans and those who are in danger of being sucked into drug gangs; in Uganda we support a project which is making a major impact on AIDS education.
In Kenya, we support the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA), a project which pioneer the use of football as a tool to encourage co-operation and raise self-esteem in the young people of the community. Over fourteen thousand youngsters play in over ninety football leagues, where success is measured not just by the goals scored in matches, but by the work the young people do in cleaning up the slums. You can imagine our delight when in October 2003, MYSA received the ultimate accolade of being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
On every continent you will find Laureus doing what we can to help. Our projects address almost all the acute social problems of today: AIDS awareness, poverty, illiteracy, delinquency, drug and alcohol abuse, antisocial behavior, gangsterism, street crime, lack of opportunity/education, truancy, unemployment, teenage pregnancy, physical abuse, mental health problems, depression, social exclusion, gender discrimination, disability discrimination, community integration, at-risk youth, the plight of child soldiers in war zones, landmine risk, (armed) violence, racial and religious discrimination, community regeneration, peace and reconciliation, environmental issues, disaster clean-up, trauma issues, segregation between Indigenous and non-indigenous communities, malnutrition, health and hygiene. The common denominator in our work is that whatever the problem, we use sport as the means to alleviate it. Sport is another way of working on people's attitude and aptitude. It focuses on teamwork and group unity. It offers a fresh way forward.
A decade ago, with the Live Aid programme, music was the catalyst in changing society. Today it is sport. And I feel that Laureus, with the powerful support of its Founding Patrons, Richemont and Daimler-Chrysler, and Founding Partners IWC Schaffhausen and Mercedes-Benz, is at the forefront of this calling.
Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy & The Laureus Sport For Good Foundation