Tony Blair launches global initiative - Beyond Sport

13 Jun 2008

By: Sport Industry Group

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has launched a major new global sports initiative - Beyond Sport - which seeks to unearth the world’s most inspirational sport projects, people and organisations, celebrate their achievements, identify why they succeed, and use them to inspire others. 

Beyond Sport will help inspirational projects evolve, ensuring they become fully sustainable examples of sport as a vehicle for social change. This will be achieved through a network of influential supporters and corporations and significant investment into the best practice projects celebrated at the Beyond Sport Awards.

Beyond Sport is made up of three core pillars: the Beyond Sport Awards; the annual two-day Forum; and the Beyond Sport Foundation.

Speaking at the London launch of Beyond Sport, Tony Blair, Chairman of the Beyond Sport Ambassadors, said: “Sport is a global language with an ability to touch and change people’s lives for the better, to reach out across seemingly unbridgeable social and political divides. And it is this essence - what sport achieves in people rather than what people achieve in sport - that drew me to the Beyond Sport initiative. 

“Beyond Sport is seeking to encourage a new mindset in the way sport is seen and utilised as a force for good by governments, global brands and NGOs and I’m hugely excited by its potential. We want to create a virtuous circle of celebrating and rewarding success, sharing best practice, and helping deliver cutting edge projects to achieve sustainable change and I believe the model Beyond Sport has in place can really do this.” 

Lord Sebastian Coe, Chairman of London 2012 and Beyond Sport Ambassador, added: “Using the power of sport to inspire change is our vision for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Sport so often plays the hidden social worker in our society and we all have much to learn from the great programmes and projects that are running all over the world.

“Beyond Sport makes heroes of individuals, organisations and projects that use sport to really make a difference to people's lives. It is exactly what being inspired by London 2012 is all about and is a great example of how our vision can be translated in to reality. I am delighted to be an Ambassador.”

The Honda Racing F1 Team, through its earthdreams programme, is leading the way as the first corporate partner of Beyond Sport. The partnership was further reinforced by Tony Blair’s announcement that Nick Fry, CEO of the Honda Racing F1 Team, is the first Global Corporate Ambassador for Beyond Sport; championing at a corporate level the ethos and philanthropic impact of the Beyond Sport Awards and the mission of its Foundation.

Nick Fry, CEO of Honda Racing F1 Team, added: “Formula 1 is about leading and innovating and that is why we have developed earthdreams, a programme that goes Beyond Sport to support environmental projects.

“Sport carries a hugely powerful message which is why we are on ‘pole position’ as Beyond Sport’s first global corporate partner.”

Reflecting the global reach of Beyond Sport, the initiative has the support of a number of influential worldwide bodies. The International Association of Athletics Federations has become the first international sports federation to put their full backing behind Beyond Sport. Additionally, UNICEF has lent its considerable weight and experience in the area of international development, including a UNICEF Children’s Rights Award to the venture.

Added David Bull, Executive Director, UNICEF UK: “In sponsoring the UNICEF Children’s Rights Award, we are recognising the vital role that sport can play in helping to fulfil children’s rights, as laid out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, whether that be the right to health, education, or the right to play.”

Lamine Diack, President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), said: “The IAAF is delighted to offer its support to Beyond Sport, a project whose ambitions line with our own vision to use the power of sport to create positive social change and inspire young people to believe in themselves. This is an exciting initiative that the IAAF is proud to be a part of and we look forward to working with Tony Blair and all those involved in Beyond Sport to help it meet its very worthy goals.”

A number of high profile individuals will join Tony Blair as Beyond Sport Global Ambassadors including:

• Lucas Radebe (FIFA Ambassador for SOS Children’s Village and South Africa’s most-capped footballer)• Lord Sebastian Coe (Chairman, London 2012)• Donna de Varona (Olympic Gold Medallist, USA Swimming and Founder, Women’s Sports Foundation)• Simon Fuller (Founder, 19 Management)• Senator Bill Bradley (Former NBA Champion and Former Democratic Senator)• Luke Dowdney (Founder, Fight for Peace)• Jahangir Khan (Six-Time World Squash Champion)

The Ambassadors will each have a role in the Beyond Sport judging process that will recognise individuals, projects and organisations that fulfilled the Beyond Sport mission.

Luke Dowdney, Founder of Fight for Peace and a member of the Beyond Sport judging panel added: “Day in day out I work with kids in Brazil’s poorest communities and see how sport can help give them a way out, a belief and some self-respect. I know we could do so much more with the right funding, political backing and profile and I know there are projects like ours – making a real difference to youngsters’ lives – in countries right across the world. That is why I’m fully behind Beyond Sport, hugely excited by the influencers it has got together and what it is striving to achieve.”

Visit www.beyondsport.org for further information.