LAUREUS AMBASSADORS LUIS FIGO AND JUAN MATA
TAKE A SPECIAL BIKE RIDE AND PLAY MINI-FOOTBALL WITH
AUTISTIC CHILDREN FROM SPANISH PROJECT ‘FOR OUR HEROES’
- ‘These children are the real heroes, today has been a very special day for me because I have seen the excitement in their faces’ – says Luis Figo
- Tandem bikes provided by Laureus global partner IWC Schaffhausen will help young people develop their abilities
- Photos of football stars Luis Figo and Juan Mata in Madrid are available for media use at www.laureusarchive.com
- A VNR of the visit will be available for media use from approx 20.00hrs GMT today (November 11) – see below for download details
MADRID, 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.”
A VNR for Media use: will be uploaded to the following ftp address for media distribution:
The estimated time for the VNR from the project visit on Monday is approximately 20:00 GMT
Picture Caption: Laureus Ambassadors Juan Mata and Luis Figo take a special ride with austistic children from the spanish Project “For our Heroes” © Jose Alberto Puero
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NOTES TO EDITORS
The Patron of Laureus is Nelson Mandela. At the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000, President Mandela said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair.” This has become the philosophy of Laureus; the driving force behind its work.
Laureus is a universal movement that celebrates the power of sport to bring people together as a force for good. Laureus is composed of three core elements - the Laureus World Sports Academy, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and the Laureus World Sports Awards - which collectively celebrate sporting excellence and use sport as the means to promote social change.
The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy are: Giacomo Agostini, Marcus Allen, Franz Beckenbauer, Boris Becker, Ian Botham, Sergey Bubka, Bobby Charlton, Sebastian Coe, Nadia Comaneci, Yaping Deng, Marcel Desailly, Kapil Dev, Mick Doohan, David Douillet, Emerson Fittipaldi, Sean Fitzpatrick, Dawn Fraser, Cathy Freeman, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Mika Häkkinen, Tony Hawk, Mike Horn, Miguel Indurain, Michael Johnson, Kip Keino, Franz Klammer, Dan Marino, Edwin Moses (Chairman), Nawal El Moutawakel, Robby Naish, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, Alexey Nemov, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Morné du Plessis, Hugo Porta, Steve Redgrave, Vivian Richards, Monica Seles, Mark Spitz, Daley Thompson, Alberto Tomba, Steve Waugh and Katarina Witt.
The Laureus Academy members volunteer their services as global ambassadors for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which was set up to promote the use of sport as a tool for social change. The Foundation addresses social challenges through a worldwide programme of sports related community development initiatives. Since its inception, Laureus has raised over €60 million for projects which have helped to improve the lives of more than one-and-a-half million young people. The mission of the Laureus Foundation is to use sport as the means to combat some of the world’s toughest social challenges facing young people today such as juvenile crime, gangs, HIV/AIDS, discrimination, social exclusion, landmines awareness and health problems like obesity. The Academy is supported in its work by the members of the Laureus Ambassadors programme, a select group of current and retired sportsmen and sportswomen who have achieved sporting greatness, plus non-sporting personalities who have made significant contributions to the sporting community during their careers.
The Laureus World Sports Awards is the premier global sports awards honouring the greatest sportsmen and women across all sports each year. The winners are selected by the ultimate sports jury - the 46 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, the living legends of sport honouring the great athletes of today. The Awards are presented at an annual Awards Ceremony, attended by global figures from sport and entertainment, which is broadcast to 120 countries and territories.
Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation which supports over 140 community sports projects around the world. The 2013 Laureus World Sports Awards were held in Rio de Janeiro on March 11.
Laureus was founded by its Patrons Richemont and Daimler and is supported by its Global Partners Mercedes-Benz and IWC Schaffhausen.
Mercedes-Benz, the world’s oldest automaker, can look back on a unique tradition. It is the most valuable automotive premium brand which stands for quality, safety, comfort, design and sustainable mobility. Mercedes-Benz enjoys an excellent reputation, particularly in the field of safety. Many pioneering technical innovations that are standard automotive features today were first seen in a Mercedes-Benz car. The Mercedes-Benz engineers will in the future consistently reinvent the automobile – with the same enthusiasm and innovation as Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz in 1886. Moreover, Mercedes-Benz has been actively supporting professional and amateur sport for decades and has become established as a dependable partner in the fields of motor sport, football, golf, horse riding and tennis. Mercedes-Benz is a Global Partner of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Since the beginning of the Foundation's operations in 2000, Mercedes-Benz has shared and supported the goals and values of this worldwide charity programme where sports play the core role in the fight against social issues - Laureus has become a vital element of the corporate social responsibility programme of Mercedes-Benz.
With a clear focus on technology and development, the Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen has been producing watches of lasting value since 1868. The company has gained an international reputation based on a passion for innovative solutions and technical ingenuity. One of the world’s leading brands in the luxury watch segment, IWC crafts masterpieces of Haute Horlogerie at its finest, combining supreme precision with exclusive design.