Chennai, April 6:   Slum  Soccer, a  project based in Chennai, with a mission of using soccer to tackle the root causes of homelessness in the country, has been shortlisted for an Award at the 2023 Laureus World Sports Awards.

Slum Soccer is one of five inspirational sports for development organisations on the shortlist for the Laureus Sport for Good Award. Chennai, the home of Slum Soccer, holds nearly 6% of India’s homeless population. The project is dedicated to tackling the root causes of poverty by giving young people life and vocational skills in order to break the cycle of deprivation. Slum Soccer takes on social issues which affect the entire state of Tamil Nadu and works tirelessly to develop a growing presence in Chennai.

Slum Soccer – along with four other Sport for Good programmes from around the world – will be celebrated alongside some of the greatest athletes of all time at next month’s Laureus World Sports Awards. Six other categories are voted for by the Laureus World Sports Academy, a group of 71 former champions who together form the ultimate sporting jury.

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The other categories are: Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year, Laureus World Team of the Year, Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year, Laureus World Comeback of the Year and Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year.

Nominees include Lionel Messi and Rafael Nadal in the Sportsman of the Year category; Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Iga Świątek for Sportswoman of the Year; and Tiger Woods and Klay Thompson in the Comeback of the Year category.

Whilst this is the first time Slum Soccer has been shortlisted, this is not the first Sport for Good recognition India has received at the Laureus World Sports Awards. Yuwa, a programme that focuses on making sure girls know their worth, and Magic Bus, a programme which works to tackle issues such as child marriage and labour, received the Award in 2019 and 2014 respectively.

In September 2022, Laureus Ambassador and world-renowned football manager Andre Villas-Boas visited Slum Soccer, where he learned more about the impact the programme has on youth in the local community. Reacting to Slum Soccer’s inclusion on the Award shortlist, Andre said: “

“In my role as a Laureus Ambassador, I was fortunate to spend time in India in September visiting and learning more about the incredible and inspiring work Slum Soccer are doing using sport to change the lives of disadvantaged young people, children living in poverty.  I was constantly reminded of Mandela’s words that ‘Sport has the power to change the world’

“Step on to the pitch and these kids with nothing are suddenly transported into a new world, smiling and laughing. That to me is the power of football. Congratulations to Slum Soccer on their deserved inclusion in the shortlist for the 2023 Laureus Sport for Good Award. Keep using this sport we all love to change lives, I’m wishing you the best of luck for the Awards.”

Abhijeet Barse, CEO of Slum Soccer, said: “We are truly honoured and humbled to have been shortlisted for the Laureus Sport for Good Award. This recognition serves as a testament to the positive impact the team at Slum Soccer are having in using ‘sport for good’, and we are grateful for the opportunity to continue to make a difference in our communities. We look forward to the next steps in the process and thank everyone who has supported us along the way.”

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