Help Martina Reach Her Goal: Donate!
Published December 06, 2010 12:00
NAIROBI, Kenya - Laureus World Sports Academy members Martina Navratilova and Kip Keino went to the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) in Nairobi, Kenya on Saturday 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 Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the Laureus Sport For Good Foundation, Navratilova and legendary Kenyan runner Keino announced the 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. It covers all aspects of MYSA's work and provides the basis for a training program that will be used to teach local MYSA staff to do their job well and to train organizations from other countries to replicate it.
"Laureus has been supporting the idea of using sport to make a difference in young people's lives for 10 years. We have seen for ourselves what a difference it can make to the lives of individuals and communities, but we can do more," Navratilova said. "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."
Navratilova, 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 Mount Kilimanjaro from December 6 to 12. Some of the funds from the climb will be used for projects such as the MYSA Curriculum.
"Martina has enormous passion about the work of Laureus and I am honored to be with her today to mark this significant step in the growth of the Sport For Good movement in Kenya and Africa," Keino commented. "Mathare has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and now in cooperation with Laureus it can become a beacon of hope for other countries in Africa."
Navratilova also announced Laureus has commissioned a report to be published in the New Year that will explore how sport can be more extensively used to solve 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 opinion formers, both inside and outside sport, it will set out the challenges that must be overcome to expand the use of sport in tackling challenges faced by African nations.
"Sport can be part of a bigger solution to the problems of Africa," Navratilova added. "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 MYSA project has pioneered the use of soccer as a tool to encourage cooperation and raise self-esteem in the young people of the community. Each year MYSA organizes thousands of matches for around 20,000 young people, playing in over 1,000 leagues. Success is measured not just by the goals scored, but by the work the young people do in cleaning up the slums. MYSA has been supported by Laureus since 2000.
"I've been to many projects but the kids in Africa and in Kenya particularly have so little," Navratilova said. "I'm always amazed by the attitude of the people in Kenya and Tanzania. It's great to be involved in these projects where very little goes a long way. It's almost ridiculous not to do something. I'm glad that I can help a great, great project by climbing Kilimanjaro to raise funds.
"Climbing 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. So it's life as usual."
Navratilova and Keino are members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, an association of 46 of the greatest living sporting legends who volunteer time to act as global ambassadors for the Laureus Sport For Good Foundation. The mission of the Laureus Foundation is to use the power of sport to address social challenges such as HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, crime, social exclusion, landmines awareness, violence, discrimination and health problems such as obesity through a global program of sports related community development initiatives. Currently there are almost 80 projects around the world supported by Laureus. Since its inception Laureus has raised over $46 million for sports based projects that have helped improve the lives of over a million youth.