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Changing the game for girls in Sport and Society

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The largest gathering of Sport for Good stakeholders in the world has ended with a call to increase funding into targeted programming for girls and young women and a pledge to lead global research into gender equity and the role that programmes empowering young women and girls through sport can play in society.

After three days of discussion at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Laureus Sport for Good Summit, presented by Nike’s Made To Play commitment to get kids moving, produced a coalition of influencers and decision-makers from across the international sport-for-development community, with a common mission: to prioritise the wellbeing of young women and girls through the power of sport and across all areas of their operations and organisations.

The sixth international Laureus Sport for Good Summit was hosted by Kely Nascimento, new Laureus Ambassador and social campaigner.  She is the daughter of Brazilian football legend Pelé, one of the original members of the Laureus World Sports Academy and recipient of the inaugural Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award. The event saw world-renowned athletes, global leaders from within the sports industry and key decision-makers from international governmental and non-profit organisations meet to share ideas and knowledge around the challenges facing the sport-for-development sector.

Speakers included athletes and Laureus Academy Members and Ambassadors Jessica Ennis-Hill, Missy Franklin, Nicol David, Tanni-Grey Thompson, Sean Fitzpatrick, Kosovare Asllani andBabalwa Latsha. They were joined by leaders from the likes of Nike, Tottenham Hotspur, AIA, FC Barcelona Foundation; and representatives from UNESCO, the World Health Organization and the Greater London Authority.

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On Wednesday June 21, sessions were themed around coaching girls and included ‘Why We Invest in Girls’ and ‘The Role of an Athlete in Inspiring Girls’. Attendees also had the chance to interact with representatives from some of the 304 programmes Laureus Sport for Good supported during 2022 in breakout sessions and get onto the pitch to experience activities led by a range of programmes.

The following day, the Summit added an additional focus on the role of the Sport for Good Cities initiative, which creates a hub for local projects to share resources and information, and to work together to achieve shared goals within their communities. Launched in 2014 in New Orleans, the Sport for Good Cities initiative now includes three additional US cities (Chicago, New York and Atlanta) as well as Delhi, Hong Kong, Paris and London, where the Model City London project – a collaboration between Laureus, Nike and the Mayor of London – has operated and thrived since 2018.

As well as a schedule packed with challenging discussion on local and global issues in the sport for development sector, the Laureus Sport for Good Summit also saw the publication of the Laureus Sport for Good Annual Review, which detailed the impact the organisation had in 2022.

Over 244,000 children and young people were impacted by the work of Laureus Sport for Good, which supported 304 programmes in 42 countries and territories with funding, training and other assistance.

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In March of 2022, Laureus launched the Sport for Peace and Humanitarian Action Fund, in response to the developing crisis in Ukraine. During 2022, the global population displaced by conflict surpassed 100 million, 40% of whom are children. Since the Fund was launched, it has aimed to reach as many of them as possible, in Ukraine and beyond, and has supported programmes in countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan and Uganda.

Also in 2022, Laureus – working with Nike – launched Jugamos Juntas (translated as We Play Together) in Mexico City, an initiative aimed particularly at girls and young women. As well as directly supporting programmes in Mexico City, Jugamos Juntas has created a network of over 300 local organisations across the community, aimed at creating a stronger, more sustainable sport for development footprint in the city.

Missy Franklin, five-time Olympic swimming champion and vice chair of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, said: “This was a unique opportunity to get a 360-degree picture of the problem of gender inequality and the role sport can play in tackling it. A volunteer from a grassroots programme in Hong Kong could talk to an executive from Nike; athletes had the chance to talk about the broader issues around inequality with representatives from the UN.

The end result includes Laureus’ commitment to this new research, backed from every corner of the international sport community. This can be a moment of change for young women and girls all over the world.

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Laureus Sport for Good works with community sports organisations that use sport to tackle violence, discrimination and inequality faced by young people. The organisation published its annual report at the event in London, underlining its place as a leader in the sport for development sector. In 2022, 304 programmes in 42 countries were supported, directly impacting the lives of over 240,000 young people across its six social focus areas: gender equity, health and wellbeing, education, employability, inclusion and peacebuilding.

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