Spotlight on Sport for Good

The Laureus World Sports Awards will feature some of the biggest names in sport, but the category with the least fame factor is where I would like you to pay the most attention: the Laureus Sport for Good Award
The Laureus World Sport Awards have to be seen to be believed. Where else are you going to find Lionel Messi, Steph Curry and Max Verstappen on the same shortlist? Or stumble upon Olympic champions past and present, meeting for the first time and swapping stories?
These Awards are the closest things we have to the Oscars for sport, but the superstars are only part of the story. The engine that drives everything Laureus does is the idea – advocated by Laureus’ first patron, Nelson Mandela - that sport has the power to change the world. For the 51 weeks every year when the Awards aren’t the focus of the sporting world, the 71 former champions who make up the Laureus World Sports Academy are engaged with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which supports 275 programmes across the globe.
And at the Awards, these incredible projects, which use sport to help young people defeat violence, discrimination and inequality, are not forgotten but celebrated alongside the greatest athletes and sporting achievements of the last twelve months. So, on the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, let me tell you about the five projects that are nominated for the Laureus Sport for Good Award at this year’s event, right alongside athletes such as Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Tiger Woods, Iga Świątek and Kylian Mbappé.
The gateway to my cycling career when I was a kid was BMX, and that is one of the sports in the High Five project in Germany, which uses action sports to help orphaned and unaccompanied migrant children integrate into new communities. It’s hard to imagine the difficulties these young people face, but I can imagine how joining with others to take part in skateboarding, snowboarding and BMX sessions will help them develop social skills and ease the stress of their situation.
Project visits are perhaps the most rewarding part of our work with Laureus, and two of our nominated programmes were visited by Laureus Ambassadors in 2022. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Ballon d’Or winner, Andriy Shevchenko, visited Warsaw to see Team Up, a project for child refugees that uses physical activity to relieve stress. Team Up operates all over the world, but they had established a base in Warsaw to care for child refugees crossing the Ukraine-Poland border in the early months of the war, just as Shevchenko was travelling across Europe to support the Ukrainian cause. 

In India, Andre Villas-Boas visited Slum Soccer, which operates in multiple locations in that city with a mission to elevate and educate the homeless populations there through football and life coaching. 

Inclusion is the focus for Made For More, a project based in South Africa, which unlocks the passion for sport within people with disabilities, who can be isolated and ignored due to stigma and ignorance in their communities. They run training camps based around Paralympic sports, an adapted surfing programme, as well as clinical and psycho-social support. 

And finally, Boxgirls, a programme based in Nairobi, Kenya, which empowers young women who face extreme inequality and violence within their communities. They do this through boxing – but as well as athletic skills, the young women in this project develop leadership and confidence. 

As a member of the Laureus Academy, I’ve visited many of the programmes supported by Laureus Sport for Good, and these visits have had a huge impact on the way I see the world and the goals I have to make a difference to it. 

The Laureus World Sports Awards are a wonderful celebration of the inspirational power of sport, and the Laureus Sport for Good Award gives an opportunity to showcase unrecognised heroes and for them to have a moment on the podium, ensuring that sporting inspiration goes beyond world records and final scores.

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