‘Tennis gave me life skills that I carried through my career – says Monica Seles as she delivers keynote speech at conference.
Laureus World Sports Academy member Monica Seles has made the keynote speech at the inaugural Up2Us National Conference in Washington D.C. which has brought together many of the organisations involved in the Sport for Good movement in the United States and around the world.
The Up2Us assembly, being held at Georgetown University Conference Centre, is the first conference to unite all organisations in the field of sports-based youth development.
Tennis legend Monica Seles, representing the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation along with Global Director Ned Wills, told the delegates: “Tennis gave me the leadership skills and life skills that I have carried with me throughout my career. Every day, children involved in sports programmes gain similar skills that will help them succeed on and off the court.”
One of the main issues on which the conference focused was cuts that were being made in sports-based community programmes and the harmful impact this was having on young people.
Although unable to be present in Washington, Dr Edwin Moses, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, said: “The recession has taken a significant toll on youth sports. According to a new report released by Up2Us, an estimated US$2 billion has been cut from U.S. youth sports programmes in the past year. The continued existence of sports-based youth development programmes in our inner cities, suburbs and rural areas is a necessity, and not an option.
“The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation supports the opportunity that this conference brings to highlight these issues to a larger national audience. The initiatives that will flow from this conference to develop and implement creative solutions at the local, state and national level to save youth sport is of vital importance. It is incumbent on us all to ensure that every generation has the opportunity to learn the many important lessons that involvement in sports can teach,” said Moses.
And Monica Seles added: “Cuts to these programmes mean that more children will lose out on the ability to discover a sport that they love and develop the skills that come along with this.”
The two-day conference has brought together organisations, researchers, practitioners, world renowned athletes and political leaders to learn from each other, share ideas, identify opportunities and celebrate the important work being done in the field.
Research conducted by Up2Us has demonstrated that children and young people who play sports are less likely to suffer from childhood obesity or lifelong medical conditions including diabetes and asthma, less likely to join gangs, drop out of school, or experience teenage pregnancy and more likely to do well in school and graduate from university or college.
Laureus is a universal movement that celebrates the power of sport to bring people together as a force for good. Laureus is composed of three core elements – the Laureus World Sports Academy, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and the Laureus World Sports Awards – which collectively celebrate sporting excellence and harness the power of sport to promote social change.
The mission of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation is to utilise the power of sport to address social challenges through a global programme of sports related community development initiatives, using sport as a tool for social change. The Foundation supports almost 70 projects worldwide and since its inception Laureus has raised “20 million for projects which have helped to improve the lives of one million young people.
Edwin Moses and Monica Seles are members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, a group of 46 of the greatest living sporting legends, who support the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. The Laureus Academy members volunteer their time to act as global ambassadors for the Foundation by using their influence to highlight the plight of disadvantaged children and supporting humanitarian projects around the world.
Up2Us is a US-based national coalition that seeks to increase the impact of, and access to, youth sports as a tool for positive youth development. With more than 200 member organisations, Up2Us is focused on increasing the quality and quantity of youth sports programmes, involving more children in sport-based youth development programmes, and engaging more adults to work and volunteer with these programmes. For more information, or to view the research report, visit www.Up2Us.org.