Last night grassroots organizations, brands, sports teams, leagues and athletes gathered at the One World Observatory at the apex of the One World Trade Centre to celebrate the courageous, creative and impactful work being done around the world using sport to promote and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).
From 250 entries spanning 70 countries, 37 organizations made the shortlist for the ninth annual Beyond Sport Awards with the 13 outstanding winners all epitomizing how sport can help tackle some of the most pressing social issues in the world today. As the global force for sustainable social change through sport, Beyond Sport overhauled the Awards this year to align with the UN SDG’s. The move reflects Beyond Sport’s belief that that using sport is an effective and game-changing approach to addressing extreme poverty, inequality and climate change.
WWE Superstars Nia Jax and Sami Zayn present Courageous use of Sport Award to Hajar Abulfazl.
Those shortlisted were joined by a stellar line up of presenters to include Donna De Verona (Olympic Gold Medalist), Nastia Liukin (Multi Olympic Gold Medalist), WWE superstars Nia Jax and Sami Zayn and 4-time Heavyweight Champion of the World, Evander Holyfield.
(L-R) Mauricio Sulaiman (President, WBC), Beatriz Restrepo Mejia (Executive Director, Grupo Internacional de Paz), Congressman Jorge Carlos Ramirez Marin with the Sport for Peace and Social Justice Award.
Alive and Kicking walked away with the Sport for Quality Education and Employment Award for their innovative work in Ghana, Kenya and Zambia creating fairly paid, ethical, employment through the manufacture and sale of sports balls. All profits from the sale of sports balls are used to fund entrepreneurial programmes and health education in their countries of operation.
Girl Determined were recognized for their Colorful Girls Volleyball Circles, collecting the Sport for Equality Award. Their Myanmar-based program brings together adolescent girls from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds to grow their access to education, health knowledge, participation in decision-making and personal development all through Volleyball.
Hajar Abulfazl received the Courageous Use of Sport Award, presented by WWE. Afghan footballer; former captain of the women’s national team; Youth Delegate, United Nations; Athlete Ambassador, Shirzanan; Abulfazl’s advocacy work spans female sports empowerment from the grassroots to elite levels, engaging with numerous sports federation and government officials as well as President Ghani.
(L-R) Evander Holyfield, Margaret Sheehan (ChildFund Australia), Corinne Eckert (Beyond Sport Young Ambassador) with UNICEF Safeguarding Children in Sport Award
Global Impact of the Year went to Women Win. Since 2007, Women Win have impacted the lives of over 1.24 million adolescent girls in over 100 countries leveraging sport and play to help girls thrive as they face the most pressing issues of adolescence, including accessing sexual and reproductive health and rights, addressing gender-based violence and achieving economic empowerment.
(L-R) Activist and former college basketballer, Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir receives the Leadership in Sport Award from Donna De Verona
This year’s Leadership in Sport Award recognized the impact of someone taking a stance. Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir is a highly decorated Former College Basketball player; instructor; activist & Athlete Ambassador, Shirzanan. Her goal was to continue playing professionally in Europe, but she was denied the opportunity to pursue that ambition due to the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rule prohibiting head gear larger than five inches. Unwilling to stray in her beliefs, she chose faith over basketball and became an advocate working alongside other Muslim players. In May 2017, thanks to Abdul-Qaadir’s tenacity and leadership, FIBA overturned the hijab ban. Whilst Abdul-Qaadir has not decided if she will revive her dream to play professionally, she is committed to continue advocating for the human right to sport.
Other winners included Everton in the Community whose Imagine Your Goals program picked up the Sport for Health and Well-being Award. The Sport for Peace and Social Justice went to Mi Vida es un Diamante (My Life is a Diamond) – Grupo Internacional de Paz (Colombia and Mexico).
Best Partnership or Collaboration went to National Alliance of Sport for the Desistance of Crime (NASDC) – 2nd Chance Group (Global/UK), whilst Soccer in the Streets picked up the Sport for Innovation and Tech Award for their Station Soccer initiative in Atlanta, Georgia.
The MLSE Foundation walked away with the Sport for Sustainable Cities and Communities Award for Regents Park Athletic Grounds in Toronto, Canada. Sacramento Kings took home the Sport for Climate Action Award for the Golden 1 Center (USA) and ChildFund Australiareceived theUNICEF Safeguarding Children in Sport Award for their Pass It Back initiative in Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam
Thanks to the support of Comic Relief and Swedish Postcode Lottery, winners of the Community Awards will receive over $130,000 of funding from the Beyond Sport Foundation. All shortlisted organizations will also receive business support including fundraising from GivenGain and monitoring and evaluation intelligence from Upshot. Since 2009, Beyond Sport has awarded over $6 million worth of business support and funding that has allowed over 175 winning and shortlisted projects grow and become sustainable in their field.
Nick Keller, Founder and President of Beyond Sport said, “Now, more than ever, all sectors need to contribute to the UN SDGs and we believe that it is crucial to shine a light on the role sport is playing in this endeavour. Tonight’s winners and shortlisted organizations show that throughout the world, sport can be harnessed to improve lives and create sustainable social change in a remarkable way.”