• Sports aid for the street children of Rio.

A Sprinter full of team spirit.

It's what's inside that counts. And the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, which was presented to the 'Bola pra Frente' initiative during the Laureus World Sports Awards on 10 March, is a perfect example of this. It will put beaming smiles on the faces of children, see them stretch their hands excitedly into the air and make them race along the streets of Rio de Janeiro. The reason? Stored inside the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van are well over a thousand pairs of football boots that will bring great joy to street children aged between six and 17. The project is being backed by top international stars such as Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto, beach volleyball Olympic champion Jonas Reckermann and Laureus ambassadors Ruud Gullit and Jens Lehmann.

Franz Beckenbauer proudly presents the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, fully loaded with football boots.
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van filled with more than 1,350 pairs of football boots.

Laureus is a fundamental component of corporate social responsibility at Mercedes-Benz,' says Anders Sundt Jensen, head of brand communications for Mercedes-Benz Cars and Laureus Director. 'We believe in the power of sport as a means of bringing people from different countries and cultural backgrounds closer together.'

The youngsters perform a drumming concert to show their gratitude for the generous donation – much to the delight of Franz Beckenbauer.
Rio is filled with happiness despite widespread poverty.

'Sport has the power to change the world.'

"Sport has the power to change the world." This quote by Nelson Mandela is the guiding principle of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which launched the project under the patronage of former Brazilian football star Jorginho as part of the 'Football boots for Rio' campaign. The campaign uses football to facilitate the development of street children. Through sport they learn about team spirit, discipline, respect and determination. It's often the first time that they are given any kind of recognition – a huge help in the daily battle against poverty, discrimination and violence. However, they rarely have enough money to buy proper boots – a sorry state of affairs that Mercedes-Benz is now putting right: together with Franz Beckenbauer the call was put out for people to donate football boots to this worthy cause. The response was tremendous: "Within no time at all, the spacious Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van had been completely filled with more than 1,350 pairs of football boots," reports Anders Sundt Jensen proudly.

Beaming young faces.

Mercedes-Benz is a global partner of Laureus and has supported the goals and values of this worldwide charity, which aims to tackle social problems and challenges through sport, since it was founded in 2000. For Franz Beckenbauer, the 'Bola par Frente' project is a cause close to his heart: "By providing the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter full of sports equipment we have managed to conjure a smile on the faces of the children of Bola pra Frente. My thanks go to all those who made this wonderful project possible. It is fantastic that so many people have parted with their own boots to enable impoverished children to play sport."

The appeal brought in more than 1,350 pairs of boots. The first street children to receive their new sports equipment could barely contain their joy.
A group of street children gladly accept the first of more 1,350 pairs of football boots.

Thanks to the countless donations, the Laureus Sports for Good Foundation and Mercedes-Benz have given the children a cause for optimism and hope. And, of course, thanks to the spacious Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, which was big enough to accommodate all those football boots – and has proven its capacity to put smiles on faces as well.