LOS ANGELES, July 9, 2012
A host of Laureus Academy Members were in Los Angeles yesterday to celebrate the launch of an exciting new programme to train sports coaches in some of the west coast's most disadvantaged areas.
Laureus Academy Members Edwin Moses, Nadia Comaneci, Marcus Allen and Tony Hawk were at Los Angeles' Lafayette Park and its Multipurpose Community Center to watch, and join in with, children from the Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) project and coaches representing Coach Across America in some skateboarding fun, as well as basketball, soccer and dance exercises.
The special Laureus Academy guests were also there with Mercedes-Benz USA dealer partners and employees as well as elected officials, guests and staff.
The LA programme is part of a nationwide Laureus USA initiative that, thanks to a $1.3 million national commitment from MBUSA, focuses on training and placing 250 coaches through in sports-based youth development projects in underserved neighbourhoods in five U.S. cities: Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami and New Orleans.
The initiative is being run in partnership with the Coaches Across America project. CAA's mission is to lead the United States in training and supporting expert sports-based youth development coaches in some of the nation's most under-resourced communities.
Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, Edwin Moses, said: "We believe in the transformational power of sport as a tool for social good. Today's coaches go beyond the traditional sense of the term 'coach.'
"They are mentors, community organisers and mediators. Investing in proper training and offering support for these coaches is vital to sports-based youth development, especially as youth violence and obesity escalate and school-based programs continue to be decimated by budget cuts. Initiatives like this are essential in America to fill the gap."
And Marcus Allen, NFL legend added: “Sport played a tremendous role in my life. And what Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA is trying to do is collect kids – for positive programs. We don’t want the streets to collect them. We don’t want gangs and drugs to collect them. We want to put them in programs to build them up.”
Meanwhile, Tony Hawk, who signed skateboards for some very excited youngsters at the event, said: “These opportunities are available to them. They should utilize them and let the coaches help you in any way. Not just through your sports, but through your life choices. The most important thing about coaching is they allow you to believe in yourself, therefore to go even further with the skills that you have.”