Laureus open to bringing awards to India in future

PTI| Updated: Mar 24, 2014, 20:24 PM IST

Kuala Lumpur: It is already associated with India through an NGO and with the country fast emerging as a strong sporting market, Laureus Sports For Good Foundation is open to the idea of bringing the prestigious awards to India in the near future.

Calling India a `fast emerging` market, Ned Wills, Global Director of Laureus Sport For Good Foundation, sounded optimistic when asked about the possibility of the country hosting the event in the years to come.

"It`s absolutely possible though it`s too early to say. And moreover, I am mainly focused on the foundation side. But there is no reason why the awards cannot come to India. It`s a fast emerging market and interest in sport is massive there, thousands of kids in India will benefit from this," Wills told PTI two days ahead of the 15th Laureus World Sports Awards here.

Laureus` strategic partner in India is Magic Bus Foundation, a non-profit organisation working with 250,000 children and 8000 volunteer mentors every week from marginalised communities in India. It uses sports-based activities to improve the lives of underprivileged children.

"We work very closely with the Magic Bus Foundation which is our strategic partner. They started 12 years ago on a small scale but now support around 250,000 people a year," Wills said.

Talking about the experience over the past 15 years ? Laureus awards` inaugural edition was held in 2000 in Monaco ? Wills said: "It`s been a very good organisation, it has grown significantly after being initially set up by Nelson Mandela, it is supporting some 140 programmes. We have developed significant expertise in the context of social development. It is a challenging environment for raising funds in an economic downturn but we are hopeful."

He further said, "My role is focused on the foundation, we try to scale our activities to reach out to more kids and more programmes. We have the best practice in training and the idea is to have more coaches, more people to reach out to kids with the message of positive development."

In a first, the Afghanistan cricket team has been nominated for the World Breakthrough of the Year award and asked why cricket, despite the presence of legends like Kapil Dev, Steve Waugh and Ian Botham as Laureus ambassadors, hasn`t featured prominently in the awards, Wills said: "The top-5 nominations are made by sports journalists from around the world, including India, and the top sportsperson is then chosen on the basis of number of votes received."