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SPORT FOR GOOD

Sport has the power to change the world.

It's no secret that sport helps to keep us fit.

But the assertion that sport may also have the power to change the world may seem a little too far-fetched for many people. Nevertheless, when Nelson Mandela said just that when he uttered the now famous words “Sport has the power to change the world,” at the first Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony back in 2000, he knew exactly what he was talking about. Three words in particular stood out in his speech: change, inspire, unite. And it’s precisely these words that, for me, define what our Laureus activities are all about. Change as the objective, inspiration as the enabler and coming together as the stimulus. It was clear to Mandela that in this world there is really only sport that functions as an essentially positive platform which is able to unite people as powerfully as it does – regardless of gender, origin, religion or class. You only have to think back to the last three World Cups in football – in Germany, South Africa and Brazil. I’m sure that, like me, you will recall many moments of great emotion, and will be able to relate to the feeling that – particularly in recent years – the big sporting events have strengthened the ties between the people and the cultures of this world.

My own sporting highlight was very definitely the almost surreal World Cup semi-final between Germany and Brazil in the summer of 2014. At the time I was with my Daimler colleagues in China and we watched the match together at 5 o'clock in the morning in a hotel lobby‎. The atmosphere was almost impossible to describe; and the many emotional, but at the same time heart-warming scenes between the Brazilian and the German fans left a lasting impression on me. What sporting moments do you recall with affection?

Laureus Sport for Good Foundation

When Daimler AG teamed up with the Richemont Group 16 years ago in 1999 to found the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation (www.laureus.com) with the intention of countering the social problems of children and young people around the world with the power of sport, no one would have reckoned on the movement gaining such momentum. From small beginnings, it has developed into a large network of active supporters and projects. Today when we look back, the principal feeling is of gratitude. Gratitude for donations totalling some 60 million euros, with which we have been able – and continue – to support over 1.5 million disadvantaged children in more than 150 social projects in 34 countries around the globe. Laureus is, quite simply, Mercedes-Benz’s global CSR initiative; and we will continue to work hard with our founding partner IWC Schaffhausen to help socially disadvantaged children and young people to achieve a better life through the power of sport in the future as well.

I am delighted to see that today over 200 top international sportsmen and women are associated with our Laureus initiative. 50 of the greatest athletes of all times, who have each made a major contribution to the world of sport, make up the so-called Laureus World Sports Academy. These sporting legends know what it means to reach the pinnacle of sporting performance and are tireless in their efforts for Laureus. They act as sponsors of individual projects and give the children and young people a sense of hope and perspective through sport. At the same time they give them valuable tips on how to deal with social problems and, through sport and sportsmanship, try to instil a greater sense of team spirit and acceptance. Qualities which help the young people to get through their often difficult daily lives without conflict or violence, and to develop a vision for their future.

Laureus Sport for Good Foundation

When Daimler AG teamed up with the Richemont Group 16 years ago in 1999 to found the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation (www.laureus.com) with the intention of countering the social problems of children and young people around the world with the power of sport, no one would have reckoned on the movement gaining such momentum. From small beginnings, it has developed into a large network of active supporters and projects. Today when we look back, the principal feeling is of gratitude. Gratitude for donations totalling some 60 million euros, with which we have been able – and continue – to support over 1.5 million disadvantaged children in more than 150 social projects in 34 countries around the globe. Laureus is, quite simply, Mercedes-Benz’s global CSR initiative; and we will continue to work hard with our founding partner IWC Schaffhausen to help socially disadvantaged children and young people to achieve a better life through the power of sport in the future as well.

I am delighted to see that today over 200 top international sportsmen and women are associated with our Laureus initiative. 50 of the greatest athletes of all times, who have each made a major contribution to the world of sport, make up the so-called Laureus World Sports Academy. These sporting legends know what it means to reach the pinnacle of sporting performance and are tireless in their efforts for Laureus. They act as sponsors of individual projects and give the children and young people a sense of hope and perspective through sport. At the same time they give them valuable tips on how to deal with social problems and, through sport and sportsmanship, try to instil a greater sense of team spirit and acceptance. Qualities which help the young people to get through their often difficult daily lives without conflict or violence, and to develop a vision for their future.

A good idea...

…can only become a global movement if there is a high and widespread level of awareness of it and if there is support for it in every country in the world. One way of raising both is through the annual Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony, which will be taking place this year on 15 April 2015 for the 16th time overall, and for the very first time in China, in Shanghai. The most successful and most prominent sportsmen and women of the past year will be presented with awards in 7 categories. They will receive a trophy that is said to be the most coveted in the sporting world and that unites two concepts under the banner of “Sport for Good”: sport and social responsibility. I know what importance these sports professionals attach to the Laureus trophy residing in their show cabinet from my many conversations with previous winners of the prize. You can only win if you have convinced a panel of journalists from more than 100 countries, as well as the Laureus World Sports Academy. For us at Mercedes, the awards this year will be particularly special. The nominees include the German national football team – whom we sponsor – following their triumph in the FIFA World Cup; and also the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula 1 team which, with drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, won both the drivers’ and constructors’ championship in 2014.

And what makes it so exciting: both have been nominated in the “Laureus World Team of the Year” category and will therefore be competing against each other. Another nominee whom we sponsor, proposed by the journalists for the category “Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year”, is Li Na, who, with two Grand Slam titles to her name, is the most successful female tennis player to come out of China. We are keeping our fingers crossed for her, as a Mercedes-Benz ambassador, in the upcoming award ceremony in her native country. And particularly because there are so many sportsmen and women with an indirect connection to Mercedes amongst this year’s nominees, I am at pains to stress that nominations are verifiably made independently of, and without any influence from, Mercedes-Benz or IWC Schaffhausen – as is the final vote. This is absolutely essential to ensure the Laureus awards remain as exciting and independent as they are.

I personally have huge respect for everyone who is socially engaged, whether their work is performed on their own or in a group. I would be interested to hear what you're doing. Please, why not use our new Mercedes me blog to tell us about the projects you're supporting and what they've taught you. Tell us which Laureus projects you find most interesting and which of the nominees for the Laureus Sports Awards 2015 you think should be taking a trophy home, and why.

As a worldwide company that has been in existence for 129 years now, we will continue to be a strong, reliable, supportive and committed partner to the Laureus initiative. You can help too, by raising awareness of Laureus: become a Facebook fan, join in on one of our projects and see for yourself the valuable work carried out by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.