Inequality did not stay at home during lockdown. The secondary effects of the pandemic contributed to an increase in violence, discrimination and disadvantage last year in most countries of the world.
The Laureus Sport for Good Review 2020, published this week, reveals how mental health and wellbeing deteriorated due to the isolation of lockdown, youth unemployment exploded, domestic violence and child abuse increased, and inequality led to increasing levels of discrimination and violence in society.
The respected Laureus Review, widely read in the sport for development sector, monitored the activities of more than 250 community sports programmes around the world who are all working to reverse these trends. Between them, with the support of Laureus, they reached over 270,000 young people in more than 50 countries last year alone.
The report gives a comprehensive snapshot of the world of Laureus and tells some of the success stories that are changing young people’s lives.
Soccer In The Streets empowers Atlanta’s youth through soccer training, character development and employability programmes. When lockdown struck, they faced the challenge of retaining their coaches. Their salaries were paid from income derived from charitable contributions, which were severely reduced during the pandemic.
38 of their 42 coaches were contractors, which meant they could not benefit from the US government’s Payroll Protection scheme. Soccer In The Streets reacted quickly and changed the focus of their programme delivery.
They ran online homework programmes and food delivery to families and developed an eight-week learning curriculum including soccer training videos delivered online or via phone by a coach, tailored to the individual needs of each participant.
In the Netherlands, AJB is one of the largest programmes using sport to reduce crime anywhere in the world.
Delivered in partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Justice, the programme targets adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 from disadvantaged neighbourhoods with high crime rates, as well as those in special education or the lowest level of regular education. The participants spend 6-8 hours per week in the programme for two years.
Young people are stimulated to take part in structured leisure activities at selected sports clubs. At the sports clubs, supported by professional coaches, the young people participate in soccer, baseball or basketball training in special AJB teams.
The Netherlands’ Youth Institute estimates that every €1 invested in the programme provides €19–33 in social return on investment.
AJB is now being implemented in several municipalities in the Netherlands as well as in Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire and Sint Maarten, with more than 1,100 young people engaged.
In Argentina, similar to the proactive approach Laureus takes to challenges worldwide, the national foundation is looking to expand its work to new cities and regions.
Elisa Ortega, 20, was born in Paraguay and has participated in Barracas Box Club(BBC) since mid-2016. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she was forced to leave her home due to domestic violence. She had no income but was met with only sympathy from the other participants of BBC.
Miguel Chilaver, 24, active in BBC since 2010, offered some of his savings to Elisa, as part of a business proposal for them to jointly provide boxing classes in Parque Pereyra Iraola, a public park close to the community in Buenos Aires.
With their first monthly income they decided to invest in t-shirts for all the participants of the classes, to enhance the sense of belonging. The programme was so successful, Miguel was able to recover his initial investment, and Elisa is now able to sustain herself.
Laureus Sport for Good launched its National Foundation in Italy in 2005, initially working in poor and disenfranchised suburbs of Milan, Rome and Naples. Since then, expanding into Turin, Genoa and Catania. Their work is endorsed by Academy Members like legendary motor cyclist Giacomo Agostini and skier Alberto Tomba.
Maria Francesca and Naomi are two young athletes from Naples who Laureus has been supporting. Thanks to their participation in the No Limits programme, they are among the few who could continue their training when the COVID-19 pandemic started.
Like many other children across the world, they faced increased challenges during lockdown. However, having been through the Laureus-supported activities in partnership with the local school, they developed resilience and confidence that helped them face the challenging times with greater and clearer expectations for the future.
Since its inception, Laureus South Africa has supported more than 50 partners delivering Sport for Development programmes, impacting more than 80,000 children and young people. In 2020, it supported 30 programmes across the country, giving more than 35,000 participants – 52% of whom were girls and young women – access to programmes in a safe and inclusive space.
Hlumelo joined CoolPlay four years ago. Before he joined he had poor self-esteem and low self-confidence. “I was a bit of a troubled youth who did some lawless acts just to fit in with everyone around. At that stage in my life, I was misguided and had no sense of direction,” he says. “I got introduced to the programme by my coach and through it I’ve learnt some valuable skills. They taught us how listening and communicating with one another are very crucial in team-building exercises.”
The positive influence provided by CoolPlay and his teammates inspired him to achieve more. Hlumelo graduated from high school last year and is currently studying accountancy at the University of Cape Town on a full scholarship.
One of the programmes supported by Laureus Switzerland is Cavallo, which allows underprivileged children to handle animals and realise their dream of riding. It also provides a safe environment for learning. A scientific study has found that horses act as both teachers and friends for young people.
Sena, 14, always wanted to ride horses while she was a little girl. However, her family’s financial situation did not allow her to. At the programme she met her favourite horse, Delia. Going to the stable after school she can switch off from everyday life and relax in Delia’s company.
After riding, she helps in the riding lesson for beginners. She assists the less experienced girls in cleaning and saddling the horses and leads their horses during the lesson. Sena is proud that she has learned to identify her strengths and interests through riding and her work with the horses. Her dream is to complete an apprenticeship as a veterinary assistant.
In Germany and Austria, the focus of Laureus Sport for Good falls on social integration and access to society for young people with migration backgrounds, and for those from economically disenfranchised families.
Navid is 18 and joined the skateboard programme HIGH FIVE in Munich in 2016. Originally from Afghanistan, he came to Germany without his family as an unaccompanied minor. At HIGH FIVE, he started to learn snowboarding, a sport he had never experienced before. The activities made it easier for him to connect with people and find new friends.
Navid also became more confident as he improved in snowboarding. He now helps newcomers in the programme and supports as assistant coach. He is aiming to do his A-Levels and wants to become a snowboard instructor.
You can read more of these heart-warming amazing stories in the Laureus Sport for Good Review CLICK HERE