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Spurs boss supports sport against gangs

MOTIVATOR: AVB talks shop with children

LAUREUS SPORT for Good Foundation has commissioned a community sports report that finds an average of 80 percent of youngsters involved in their programmes are “more likely to stay away from gangs and were more optimistic about their future.”

Tottenham coach Andre Villas-Boas, who was today unveiled as a new Laureus ambassador, launched the report – based on research from Urban Stars sports projects in London, the West Midlands and Gloucestershire – at Walworth Academy, south London, where he met children and held a training session.

Urban Stars is one of Laureus’ key programmes, and is run by its partner Active Communities Network.

“Laureus has shown over the years that it understands how to help young people through sports projects and this research is very significant”, Villas-Boas said. “I am passionate about how football can help young people in the community. This is something we also try very hard to do at Tottenham Hotspur through our Foundation.

“It’s great to see Urban Stars using football in London to help young people turn their lives around and becoming valuable members of the community.

“Laureus has once again proved that sports projects are highly effective when it comes to giving young people an alternative to gangs and youth crime and giving them a more positive outlook”, added the former Chelsea manager.

The report made its findings from questionnaires given to over 250 young people and project leaders within the Urban Stars programme. Outdoing the 80 percent average were respondents in the West Midlands, of whom 94 percent said they less likely to be in a gang because of sport – the project runs boxing programmes in that location.

Also to come out of the research was that there was a 30 percent reduction in reoffending rates, compared to the national average, of prison leavers who participated in the programmes.

The Government estimates £4bn a year is spent on youth crime and anti-social behaviour.

“The report also demonstrates that sport can be effective not only in engaging marginalised youth but in tackling youth crime and reducing re-offending. At the same time it can provide a variety of support mechanisms and educational/life course pathways”, said professor Andrew Parker, lead researcher of the University of Gloucestershire.

Gary Stannett, Chief Executive Officer of Active Communities Network, said: “This research evidences our belief that sport can act as a catalyst for both personal and community enhancement when delivered by quality staff in local neighbourhoods.

Laureus, whose patron is Nelson Mandela, is a global organisation which aims to use “the power of sport to bring people together as a force for good.” It is made up of three parts – the Laureus World Sports Academy, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and the Laureus World Sports Awards, all of which view sport as a means for social change.

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