Laureus World Sports Academy Members Martina Navratilova and Kip Keino joined together at the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) in Nairobi, Kenya, to celebrate a new milestone in the history of this remarkable Laureus-supported community sports project.
Just days before she leads a team of climbers up 19,341 ft (5,895 metres) Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise funds for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, Martina and legendary Kenyan runner Kip announced the launch of a new MYSA Curriculum which will be a major aid in the training of the next generation of community leaders in Africa.
The curriculum has been funded by Laureus and developed in partnership with Active Communities Network in London. It covers all aspects of MYSA’s work and provides the basis for a training programme which will be used to teach local MYSA staff to do their job well and to train organisations from other countries to learn about and replicate what MYSA does.
Martina said: “Laureus has been supporting the idea of using sport to make a difference in young people’s lives for ten years. We have seen for ourselves what a difference it can make to the lives of individuals and communities, but we can do more. To support a plan that can train leaders from across Africa to set up and run successful Sport for Good projects in their own countries is a sure way to magnify the success of what can be achieved. This is great news and I am so proud to be here to launch the MYSA Curriculum.”
Martina, who finished radiotherapy treatment in June following breast cancer, will lead a group of 27 climbers, including German Paralympic cyclist and Laureus Friend and Ambassador Michael Teuber and British Olympic badminton star Gail Emms up Mt Kilimanjaro from December 6-12. Some of the funds from the climb will be used to support projects such as the MYSA Curriculum and other Laureus projects in Africa.
Kip Keino said “Martina has enormous passion about the work of Laureus and I am honoured to be with her today to mark this significant step in the growth of the Sport for Good movement in Kenya and Africa. Mathare has been twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and now in co-operation with Laureus it can become a beacon of hope for other countries in Africa.”
Martina also announced that Laureus has commissioned a report to be published in the New Year which will explore how sport can be more extensively used to solve some of the most pressing social problems affecting the continent and achieve key development goals. Reflecting the voice and experience of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, the Laureus World Sports Academy and key stakeholders and opinion formers, both inside and outside sport, it will set out the challenges which must be overcome to expand the use of sport in tackling the challenges faced by African nations.
Martina said: “Sport can be part of a bigger solution to the problems of Africa. This report will be a start, a big start, but it is only a start. I call upon all the governments in Africa to open their eyes and see how grass roots sport really can change their world.”
Laureus has been supporting community sports-based projects across Africa since its inception. Over the years, it has become much clearer that sport for good has the potential to tackle social challenges and achieve key development goals in a more extensive way in some African countries than it currently does.
Based in one of the largest and poorest slums in Nairobi in which HIV/AIDS and other diseases are widespread, the Mathare Youth Sports Association project has pioneered the use of football as a tool to encourage co-operation and raise self-esteem in the young people of the community.
Each year MYSA organises thousands of matches for around 20,000 young people, playing in over 1,000 leagues. Success is measured not just by the goals scored in matches, but by the work the young people do in cleaning up the slums. MYSA has been supported by Laureus since 2000.
Martina added: “I’ve been to many projects but the kids in Africa and in Kenya particularly have so little. I’ve spent a lot of time there and I’m always amazed by the attitude of the people in Kenya and Tanzania, where Kilimanjaro is. It’s great to be involved in these projects where very little goes a long way. And so it’s almost ridiculous not to do something. And so I’m glad that I can help a great, great project by climbing Kilimanjaro to raise funds.
“Climbing Mt.Kilimanjaro is part of my approved treatment. Basically I’m cancer free now and you’re encouraged to be very active during radiation and after radiation. The more in good shape you are, the better you will deal with the treatment and also of course hopefully will keep it from coming back. And so it’s life as usual.”