Do Sport, Do Good?

Jun 21, 2014 1 Min Read


Case study: How Laureus does it

Amidst the glitz and glamour of the event, the 15th Laureus World Sports Awards 2014, held in Kuala Lumpur and the first time in a South-East Asian country, had attracted many from all over the world to catch a glimpse of some of the world’s best athletes from 2013.

Often dubbed the “Oscars of sports”, this prestigious annual award ceremony celebrates and recognises the accomplishments of remarkable individuals from the world of sports. With Malaysia playing the friendly host that year to promote Visit Malaysia Year 2014, there was actually more to Laureus than meets the eye.


So what’s the real deal?

The amazing story of Nelson Mandela who played an instrumental role in uniting a racially-divided South Africa post-apartheid, through rugby sport, is still very much a transcendent moment today. It was a pivotal turning point that year in 1995 toward reconciliation and multiracial democracy for that nation. This story was so inspiring that it was chronicled in the blockbuster movie Invictus.

Subsequently, it was from this historical account and firsthand witness of the profound role sports can play in society that South African Johann Rupert first toyed with the idea that eventually became Laureus. In honour of Mandela’s exemplary deed, the respectable leader became the first patron of Laureus.

Essentially, Laureus comprises the Laureus World Sports Academy, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and the Laureus World Sports Awards. Collectively, these components harness the strong influence of sport as an effective tool to promote social change, especially in tackling many of society’s issues such as discrimination and poverty.

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Laureus World Sports Academy

The Laureus World Sports Academy is the ultimate sports jury by voting each year to determine the winners of the Laureus World Sports Award. The academy consists of a dedicated team of 46 world’s most successful and legendary sports icons.

More importantly, these sportsmen and sportswomen act as global ambassadors on a voluntary basis to visit the numerous social projects and community development initiatives supported by Laureus. On occasions like these, many have had the opportunity to meet their sporting heroes face-to-face and be inspired by their role models.

All the academy members share a common belief that sport has the power to break down all language and cultural barriers, thereby bringing people together.

By encouraging young people to play a sport, the team is also on a mission to create public awareness on serious social challenges which may be faced by them.

In a nutshell, the academy uses sport to effect positive social change and improve the lives of young people around the world.

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Laureus Sport for Good Foundation

Laureus Sport for Good Foundation was birthed in tandem with Laureus Academy and Laureus Awards to focus on helping young people overcome challenging social issues like homelessness, violence, war, drug abuse, AIDS and discrimination.

It provides three forms of support:

  • Funding. The foundation raises funds to provide financial and practical support to more than 150 global projects that work to educate children, protect the vulnerable from illness and bring divided communities together in friendship.
  • Training. It uses the power of sport to provide coaching, mentoring and education to young people in some of the most deprived environments around the world.
  • Strategic counsel. This support is vital in order to measure and quantify change from individual projects. It also looks for ways to open up projects to a global network of charities.

The foundation aims to be an advocacy channel to get politicians, senior executives and strategy makers to be involved through the Laureus Academy.

It strongly believes that sport can bridge the gap and change the world to be a better place because sport represents the best of humanity, i.e. teamwork, determination and comradeship.


Laureus World Sports Awards

The Laureus World Sports Awards is a platform to showcase the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, besides being a red carpet event held annually to celebrate the achievements of the best athletes from across the sporting world.

Proceeds from the awards are channelled to the Laureus Foundation and this has helped improve the lives of over 1.5 million young people across the world.

In the recently concluded Laureus Awards 2014, Magic Bus won in the Sport for Good Award category (see accompanying story The magical journey of Magic Bus).

As we read about the various initiatives Laureus undertakes, it looks like sport was never just about competing and winning a game. Retrospectively, sport somehow propels a sense of hope in individuals, families, communities and nations of the world.

Some of the world’s best athletes are giving back by dedicating their time to mentor and be a role model to underprivileged children. These athletes realise that medals and awards from wins will fade, but the impactful ripple effects of leveraging the power of sports for the good of humanity lasts a lifetime.

Best summed up by Mandela’s words of wisdom, he said,

Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.

See how Nelson Mandela united South Africa through rugby in 1995.
Video credit: The National

The magical journey of Magic Bus

At the recently concluded Laureus World Sports Awards 2014, Magic Bus won the Sport for Good Award category.


Its background

The Magic Bus programme was founded in 2001 by Englishman Matthew Spacie. Based in Mumbai, it is an innovative project to transform the lives of many underprivileged children in India.


Its works

Magic Bus steers marginalised boys and girls towards a better life with better awareness, better life skills and better opportunities in their journey from childhood to livelihood.

The programme, which centres around sports-based activities, aims to take children out of the cycle of poverty through a series of mentoring and coaching initiative.

Interestingly, the mentorship programme involves local youth volunteers trained to be role models to other children. As such, it empowers communities to help themselves by learning, leading and earning a livelihood.


Its impact

Today, the Magic Bus programme is run in 10 states, reaching out to 250,000 children in India.

Children’s participation in the Magic Bus programme has led to tremendous social impact in the following areas:

  • Education: Through this programme, children are more regular at school, reducing the number of dropouts and icnreasing chances of children progressing to higher levels of studies.
  • Gender equality: With heightened awareness about their rights, children are better equipped to treat people from any gender fairly.
  • Hygiene: Children learn about good personal hygiene practices. This results in the decline of unnecessary illnesses caused by unhygienic practices.
  • Sexual and reproductive health: Girls and young women who participate in Magical Bus are reportedly more in control over their sexual and reproductive health.


Lay Hsuan wishes to overcome the hurdle of a writer’s block so she can continue to write to inspire readers. She strongly believes words have the power to make or break a person. To read more articles like this, click here

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Lay Hsuan was part of the content curation team for, playing the role of a content gatekeeper as well as ensuring the integrity of stories that came in. She was an occasional writer for the team and was previously the caretaker for Leaderonomics social media channels. She is still happiest when you leave comments on the website, or subscribe to Leader's Digest, or share Leaderonomics content on social media.

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