November 11, 2013
Autistic children who are benefiting from a Laureus Sport for Good Foundation project in Spain met two real life sporting heroes in Madrid today - football greats Luis Figo and Juan Mata - and went for a bike ride they will never forget.
Laureus Ambassadors Figo and Mata shared a day with the children and joined them on a tandem bike ride, then played a fun game of mini-football with them.
Luis Figo, who played for both FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in a stellar career, said: “These children are the real heroes. Children with different abilities for whom each day is a challenge. Today has been a very special day for me because I have seen the excitement in their faces.”
The young people who joined Luis Figo and Juan Mata came from the Pauta Foundation, winner of one of the scholarships from the Laureus-supported project ‘For our Heroes’, created in co-operation with the Alex Foundation. The project provides financial scholarships for individuals, teams or groups of people who participate in sport, but are in need of support to further develop their abilities.
The tandems were donated to the Pauta Foundation for the children’s use by luxury watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen, a global partner of Laureus, from proceeds which came from sales of a special IWC Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph Laureus edition watch. Using the tandems will help the young people to develop their co-ordination and psycho-motor skills.
The watch included a design on the back by 12-year-old Hasanga De Silva from the Foundation of Goodness project in Seenigama, Sri Lanka, which is supported by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Children from projects around the world took part in a competition to provide the design.
Chelsea and Spain star footballer Juan Mata emphasised the importance of bringing sporting passion to children. “Doing any kind of physical exercise is beneficial for anyone, but particularly for these children it is very important as it helps them to improve not only their physical, but also their intellectual skills. It was really exciting to share this time with them.”
Olivier Lebegue, Director of IWC Spain and Portugal, and Gabriel Masfurroll, President of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation in Spain and the Alex Foundation, were present to share the moment.
Gabriel Masfurroll said: “For Laureus Spain and the Alex Foundation, the project ‘For our Heroes’ is very important as it can help several institutions with financial grants to promote sport and this way can reach as many people as possible. Since we started this project, we have helped over 4.000 people in Spain. Therefore the involvement of companies as IWC and great athletes like Luis Figo and Juan Mata is very important.”
This is the seventh year that IWC has created a limited edition of one of its watches for Laureus. Georges Kern, CEO of IWC, said: “It is IWC’s self-conception as a successful international watch manufacturer to take social responsibility. IWC supports the Laureus Foundation in Spain with this project ‘For our Heroes’ as well as the Pauta Foundation. We are proud to see long-time friend of the IWC Brand, Luis Figo, spend considerable time with challenged children as we at IWC believe in the powerful effect that sport can add to all our lives.”