Laureus Announces Further Support For Play Academy With Naomi Osaka

Play Academy with Naomi Osaka, an initiative led by the tennis star which aims to change girls’ lives through play and sport, has received a funding boost from Laureus with backing of their Global Partner MUFG. 
Launched as a collaboration between three-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka, Nike and Laureus Sport for Good, Play Academy aspires to level the playing field for girls through the power of sport. By investing in fun and positive play experiences through sport, and working with coaches who are trained in gender-inclusivity, Play Academy aims to help girls become positive role models. 
Tokyo has among the highest global rates of girls dropping out of sport – at more than twice the rate of boys – by the age of 15. Girls who are active are not only healthier and do better in school, in their careers and in the community, but they also have an increased sense of self, positive coping skills and increased goal setting. MUFG’s commitment to support the initiative through Laureus will allow for greater impact. Naomi’s collaboration here and with other brand partners such as Mastercard help champion women in sports and shine the light on gender inclusion.

I’m so thankful to Laureus and its partner MUFG for supporting Play Academy. Together with Nike, Mastercard and our other partners, we’ll be able to make a positive impact on young women and girls. Sport today is more important than ever for society, especially for girls growing up in marginalized communities. I’m so proud that through Play Academy, we’re going to be working to ensure more girls stay in sport, building confidence, self-esteem and leadership skills, giving them the support they need to succeed in other aspects of life.

Naomi Osaka

Edwin Moses, Chairman of Laureus Sport for Good, said: “Naomi’s creation of Play Academy shows how athletes at the top of their game can make a difference to young lives – not just by being role models, but by using their influence to focus on important issues and causes. MUFG joining Play Academy, alongside Nike and the other partners helping to drive it, is a great example of teamwork that will benefit so many young people. I congratulate and thank Naomi for the inspirational work she’s doing off the court as well as on it.”

Laureus Ambassador Ai Sugiyama, said: “I am very happy and proud as a tennis player, a Japanese national and a Laureus Ambassador that Naomi Osaka, one of the greatest tennis players in the world, is making a commitment through Play Academy with Naomi Osaka to expand opportunities for girls and young women. I am also pleased the programme is gaining more and more support with the news that MUFG will support the programme in both philosophy and funding. It is exciting that Naomi will be helping girls become role models, much as she herself is a role model as an athlete. I am confident the programme will help increase the possibilities for the younger generation of women through the power of sport, and I look forward to supporting in the future.”

MUFG Managing Director of Corporate Planning Division Akira Watanabe, said: “We are very pleased to announce that through our sponsorship of Laureus, an organization we have been working together with since 2018, MUFG will be supporting  Play Academy with Naomi Osaka to empower young girls through the power of sport. The goals to which Play Academy aspires, “to change girls’ lives through play and sport” resonates deeply with the goals MUFG and Laureus strive for “to create a better world through the power of sport. As an athlete and a leader, Naomi Osaka has become a leading figure on the global stage, representing the world and not just Japan. As a financial company originating in Japan, MUFG also endeavours to become the worlds most trusted financial group, and we are committed to supporting efforts to nurture individuals who are able to fulfil their dreams and succeed regardless of their gender.”

In Japan, Laureus Sport for Good is focused on the use of sport to promote social inclusion and empower young women and girls. Advocating for the work Laureus Sport for Good supports in Japan are Laureus Ambassadors and Olympic stars Dai Tamesue and Yuko Arimori, footballer Shinji Kagawa, gymnastic legend Kohei Uchimura and tennis champion Ai Sugiyama. 
Laureus Sport for Good is a global charity that supports children and young people by using the power of sport to end violence, discrimination, and disadvantage. It operates under the fundamental belief that the achievement of this ambition is best delivered by ending the social issues that affect the younger generation and changing their lives for the better. 
Over the last 20 years, Laureus Sport for Good has raised more than €150m for the Sport for Development sector, reaching and helping change the lives of more than six million children and young people since 2000. Laureus Sport for Good currently supports more than 200 programmes in over 40 countries that use the power of sport to transform lives.

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