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It was in the early nineties that the idea that would eventually become Laureus first came to Johann Rupert, Chairman of luxury goods company Richemont. A noted sports enthusiast, Rupert was at a dinner with celebrated international photographer Monty Shadow and mused over the fact that there was no Nobel Prize or Oscars-style awards for sport.
It was not until 1998 that Richemont and Daimler teamed up to get the project off the ground. Two years later the Laureus World Sports Awards was launched in Monaco with Nelson Mandela as guest of honour.
To achieve the goals set by its founders, it was acknowledged that Laureus needed to be much more than a spectacular red carpet event. It had to be a year-round charity dedicated to effecting social change through sport. Thus was born the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Its work would focus on helping young people overcome challenging social issues such as poverty, homelessness, war, violence, drug abuse, discrimination and AIDS.
Supporting the Foundation is the Laureus World Sports Academy, a dedicated team of 46 legendary sportsmen and sportswomen, who have all volunteered their services to this cause, acting as global ambassadors, visiting projects to encourage young people to participate in sport and to draw public attention to these problems.
While the Laureus World Sports Awards Ceremony has created a unique place for itself in the sporting calendar, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation has achieved acclaim for the work it does with its supported projects for underprivileged young people around the world.
The very first project was the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) based in one of the largest and poorest slums in Nairobi with several hundred thousand inhabitants. Disease is widespread and AIDS is a serious problem. The project had pioneered the use of football as a tool to encourage co-operation and raise self-esteem in the young people of the community. Young people who have been involved in MYSA since the beginning, have now become role models and youth leaders in their community.
The growth of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation over the last ten years has been remarkable and the list of projects within the Laureus network currently stands at over 140.