Laureus isn’t just about an awards show or a chance to hobnob with celebs and sports figures in swanky Monte Carlo: All profits generated from the awards intl. TV sales go to a the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which is dedicated to funding and supporting social organizations worldwide that use sports as a tool for their mission, whether it be against violence, disease, poverty or religious divides.
The foundation was created last year with the help of Laureus’ 42-member World Sports Academy. Throughout the year, academy members travel the world as representatives of the charity and participate in its various projects.
“We are privileged to have the most trusted messengers in the world visiting projects Laureus is funding,” says Laureus CEO Iain Banner.
The academy is headed by athlete Edwin Moses, who has logged quite a few air miles in the past year to check in on the foundation’s projects.
“I just got back from visiting one of the worst slums you’ll ever seen in your life (in Mathare, Kenya),” says Moses. “There are people living on piles of rubbish. There is foul water, no roads or muddy roads, no electricity. We give them money to continue a program that they have there, which involves playing soccer. We gave them the means to build offices and soccer fields.”
The Mathare Youth Sports Assn. project in Kenya uses soccer as a conduit for encouraging teamwork and promoting physical and environmental health. Every weekend, 25-30 teams from the MYSA soccer league clear the garbage and ditches around their homes as part of MYSA’s cleanup program.
Over the past year, the foundation has helped fund several other sports projects globe, including:
- Northern Ireland’s Youth Sport Foyle, established to promote peace and reconciliation through participation in sports. The cross-border project encourages young people from different backgrounds and religions to come together for sports including soccer, hurling, cricket and Gaelic football.
- Germany’s KICK youth soccer program, which keeps kids off the streets of Berlin.
- The Midnight Basketball League, a national program in the U.S. and Puerto Rico that also keeps kids off the streets and provides workshops and counseling.
“We gave them close to $100,000 to do what they do best, which is keep high-risk men and women off the street between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.,” notes Moses, of the Midnight Basketball program. “Most of these people are former gang members or drug dealers who need structure and discipline in their lives.”
To keep the project funding rolling, the Sport For Good Foundation’s coffers are supplemented with donations from Laureus’ founding patrons, DaimlerChrysler and Richemont, to the tune of $1 million annually for the next five years.
“I am ambitious and determined that we can go beyond that,” says Banner.
Together with Sport For Good’s “trusted private bank,” Deutsche Bank Private Banking, Laureus aims to build an endowment fund that will stretch the foundation’s financial might to do more good through sports.
“In order to make the foundation a success, we are creating a global network with a foundation in every key market, such as the U.S., Germany and the U.K.,” says Bernd von Maltzan, CEO of Deutsche Bank Private Banking, one of the world’s largest private banks. “Using this network, we will generate a maximum of capital for the Sport for Good Foundation.”
Other fund raising activities include the creation of a limited edition book of photographs of the Laureus academy members shot by Greg Gorman. Lithographs of the images will also be auctioned with proceeds going to the foundation.
Additionally, DaimlerChrysler has donated a new Mercedes-Benz SLR prototype to be auctioned to benefit the Sport for Good Foundation.
The charity’s spirit is echoed in the awards ceremony with a Laureus Sport for Good Award. The honor goes to individuals who make a difference in society through sport. Last year, the org honored Eunice Kennedy Shriver for her work with the Special Olympics. This year’s honoree will be announced at the Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony on May 22.