Cape Town - Ahead of tomorrow's landmark 20th anniversary Laureus World Sports Awards, South Bronx United, a programme who use the sport of football to change the lives of young people from underserved communities in New York, have been announced as the recipients of the 2020 Laureus Sport for Good Award.
In Berlin to make the announcement at a press conference were Laureus Academy members Sean Fitzpatrick, Michael Johnson and Missy Franklin and Laureus Ambassador Jens Lehmann.
South Bronx United have been recognised by the Laureus World Sports Academy for their transformational work in supporting disadvantaged and marginalized young people living in some of New York's most underprivileged communities. The programme uses football as a tool for social change, and aims to help youth build character, teamwork, and leadership so that they can achieve success in high school, college, their careers and communities, and beyond.
The Laureus Sport for Good Award is awarded to an organisation or individual who, in the opinion of the members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, have used sport to reduce the impact of violence, conflict and discrimination, to enhance social and emotional development, to inspire healthy behaviour change and to increase educational achievements and employability skills.
Laureus Sport for Good supports programmes around the world that use sport to combat violence, discrimination and disadvantage faced by young people. The 2020 Laureus World Sports Awards will showcase Laureus Sport for Good's work for the past two decades in uniting, inspiring and changing the lives of young people around the world. Of the 319,000+ children and young people that Laureus Sport for Good and partners reached in 2019 through these programmes, 47% were girls and young women, significantly above global averages for sports-based programmes.
Laureus Sport for Good has raised more than €150m for the Sport for Development sector over the last 20 years. Together with our partners, Laureus Sport for Good has reached and helped change the lives of almost 6 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.
In Berlin to accept the Award at tomorrow's landmark 20th anniversary Laureus Awards are South Bronx United co-founder and Executive Director Andrew So, and two inspirational participants who have directly benefitted from the transformational work of the programme. Mohamed Konate, 18, was born in the Ivory Coast to parents who had fled Guinea. He moved to the United States as a child leaving some family members behind. In his eight years at South Bronx United, he has become a leader in the organization and his community.
Joining Mohamed in Berlin is another 18-year-old programme participant, Maria Martinez. Maria emigrated from Mexico to the United States with her mother, in search of a better life and better opportunities. As well as her footballing and educational endeavors, Maria is also a referee and training as a coach at South Bronx United. Mohamed and Maria are both seniors in high school. With the support of South Bronx United, both have already received several acceptances to college and they plan to begin studying towards college degrees this year.
South Bronx United was founded in 2009 on an idea that young people needed an engaging program to connect to and keep them off the streets, and that youth passionate about soccer should have a program in which to develop. Over the past decade, SBU has grown in response to the needs of the community, the challenges facing youth, and the synergy between soccer, education, mentoring, immigration, and support services.
Sean Fitzpatrick, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy: "On behalf of the Laureus World Sports Academy, I would like to commend South Bronx United for their outstanding work in using sport as a tool for social change. In 2000, our Patron Nelson Mandela said 'Sport has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does' and tomorrow evening, Andrew, Mohamed and Maria will stand on stage as proof that those words still ring true today. They are an inspiration and as Academy Members, we are so proud to celebrate their success."
Reflecting on receiving the Laureus Sport for Good Award, South Bronx United Executive Director Andrew So, said: "Sport is an incredible tool for positive change and at South Bronx United, we have been fortunate enough to see a positive change in the hundreds of young people who have come through our programme in the past 10 years. Through football, the young people we work with build confidence, self-esteem and form relationships and friendships. I would like to thank the Laureus Academy for recognising our work, which is required more than ever. This Award will act as motivation to continue using sport to do good for the next decade and beyond."
Adam Fraser, Chief Executive of Laureus Sport for Good, said: "At Laureus Sport for Good, we are proud to support programmes around the world who are using sport as a tool to end violence, discrimination and disadvantage. Our grantees and partners helped the children and young people they serve to overcome a host of challenges in 2019, and the work Andrew and his team at South Bronx United are doing is a wonderful example of how those programmes can change lives. Monday's landmark 20th anniversary Laureus Awards will celebrate the greatest sporting triumphs of 2019 but Andrew, Mohamed and Maria will be at the heart of those celebrations - that's what Laureus is all about."
It was at the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000 that Laureus Patron, Nelson Mandela, spoke the words which sparked the creation of the worldwide Sport for Good movement. 20 years on, these words still guide Laureus today - 'Sport has the power to change the world; to unite people in a way little else does'. From sports stars to sports fans and the young people in Laureus Sport for Good programmes around the world: Sport Unites Us.