Edwin Moses: Firstly it is inspired and run by the Laureus World Sports Academy, iconic legends of sport who have inspired millions of young people and current sportsmen and sportswomen around the world.
Secondly, we are not parachuting in a solution to all the world’s social problems.
We identify and support leaders within communities, often young leaders, and assist them to deliver programmes and education to other young people in the community.
Our organisation is unique in the sense that it helps those communities to help themselves.
Question: How many programmes around the world does Laureus support?
Edwin Moses: Having started with six community sports-based projects in 2000, we are now well past 100. It’s a figure that is growing every week. But this is not just about quantity, it’s about the quality of support that we’re now able to offer. We are able to offer a range of services and expertise that we would never have thought possible in 2000.
Question: Laureus is expanding. How do you manage this global growth?
Edwin Moses: Part of our strategy has been to identify regional approaches. It makes perfect sense to be managing and working with projects in Africa from Africa as opposed to directing operations from London. Similarly it makes more sense to be directing and delivering our operations in Brazil, in Argentina, in Chile and in Uruguay from South America. It brings our teams closer to our partner projects on the ground and ultimately allows them to understand much better the challenges that are being faced politically, economically and socially by the communities in that continent.
Our latest involvement recently in the United States, alongside our delivery partner Coach Across America, has been focused on identifying and training and placing coaches in underserved communities across the United States.
This year, with Coach Across America, we will place 250 coaches in five cities impacting some 40,000 young people. We’re really excited about this development.
Question: There has been an important shift in strategy over the last few years, can you tell us more about this?
:Edwin Moses: As Laureus grew, we began to understand with all our projects that we had a global network, a global platform of expertise. We were identifying some fantastic practices in how to inspire kids with sport and we started to see a need to move away from just investing in particular projects and to look to invest in the programmes themselves.
So we started to invest on a broader scale in what we term strategic partners. We started to develop curriculums and training manuals with those partners so that they could then train their own coaches to a better standard.
We have now moved to a two tier structure where we have strategic partners who are able to train coaches around the world and we have projects around the world that were in need of that training.
We are now able to say to those smaller projects – ‘not only are we going to assist you funding your programme, but we are also going to assist you by allowing you access to expertise that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to get access to. And that has led to huge benefits.’
Question: Can you explain what these benefits are?
Edwin Moses: This global network allows projects to access specific training and expertise to allow them to grow their organisations to reach more and more young people.
We regularly bring together leaders and coaches from our projects on exchange visits to help us develop our thinking and to share knowledge and expertise.
It’s quite incredible the number of project leaders who still, to this day, come to those networking sessions and only just begin to realise that there are other people out there who have the same idea, who are trying to do the same thing, and who are trying to use sport in the same way.
Question: And now Laureus is becoming an important voice in the sport for development world?
Edwin Moses: Yes, we call this our advocacy strategy. It allows us, through the members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, to open doors into organisations, politicians, senior executives, opinion formers and strategy makers that we would not otherwise have been able to.
We have been lucky enough to gain significant numbers of supporters, new stakeholders and funders to our organisation who have been inspired by those meetings with the Academy Members, who are able to explain the value of sport to the young people around the world.
As part of our advocacy and research work, we have been co-operating with a number of different partners around the world to investigate in some depth what is the real value of sport in tackling some of the world’s social problems.
We produced research with our partner in the United States, Up2Us, which we then took to the White House to initiate a discussion about a change in policy in the US on how sport is used for young people and in schools.
Question: Can you tell us more about the research Laureus has commissioned?
Edwin Moses: Using our network of expertise around the world and the case studies from various communities, Laureus has commissioned reports into the issues of health, increased gang violence, drugs and drug crime.
We’re investing quite significantly in looking into the financial economic implications of sports programmes: how much does it cost to run a sports programme versus how much does it cost ultimately to have a young child dropping out of school and going to referral units and end up in jail or in trouble with the police?
In the Sport Scores report (October 2012), we identified that for every £1 invested in sports-based programmes up to £5 was saved within three years to society. That £5 saving coming from police time, the cost of jailing the young people, the cost of the judicial system, insurance premiums, savings to schools when those schools are having to bring in extra teachers to cover teachers who are suffering stress.
It was an extremely surprising research finding both to me and my fellow Academy Members and I think even to the researchers themselves.
Question: At the end of the day, the focus of all Laureus’ work is to help young people. Can you tell us what it is like when a Laureus Academy Member visits a project?
Edwin Moses: It is often an incredibly inspiring moment, particularly when we walk into a room full of kids, a room full of coaches, of mentors, often parents, often the wider community. Those kids are not only excited by the fact that there's an event. There’s something going on that’s new. There's an international visitor arriving on their doorstep, who has come to see what they're doing. And there is special excitement that there's a legend of sport, a gold medal winner, something that they had only ever seen on television, arriving and taking an interest in what they are doing. And that has an incredible impact on the atmosphere in the room.
As I know myself, one of the other amazing things to see is the look on the Academy Members faces, on the Ambassadors faces, when we leave those particular projects. We all take a huge amount of energy, encouragement and enthusiasm from those projects and it really is a two way experience.