German World Cup winner Mesut Özil helped make possible operations for 23 children in Coroatá
‘We wanted to make a lasting mark in the World Cup country of Brazil and this is something we managed to achieve’ – says Mesut Özil
Jens Lehmann also wins prize for his Laureus work and says: ‘My dedication to Laureus is a subject which is very close to my heart’
Germany World Cup winner Mesut Özil has been presented with a special prize for his charity work after making personal donations which helped to make surgery possible on 23 Brazilian children during the FIFA World Cup.
In partnership with the organisation ‘BigShoe’, Özil enabled the operations to be carried out on children primarily suffering from cleft lips and palates, in the city of Coroatá.
The presentation was made at the ‘Laureus Media Prize of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation of Germany/Austria’ event in Berlin, at which contributions made in the field of sports journalism were acknowledged and awards presented to people and organisations who have demonstrated a special level of social commitment.
According to Mesut Özil: “Making the donation was a foregone conclusion as far as I was concerned. We wanted to make a lasting mark in the World Cup country of Brazil and this is something which I think we managed to achieve with the operations on these children.”
The commitment demonstrated by Özil and the media attention which was generated also made it possible to attract additional benefactors.
Mesut Özil, who plays for English Premier League club Arsenal, has become a role model for professional football with this aid programme. It has also shown how important it is to him to take his social responsibility seriously and make use not only of his fame and his network of contacts, but also his financial opportunities to improve the lives of children and young people across the world through sport.
He added: “I am proud to have received this Honorary Prize from Laureus. It’s a very special feeling to be included on the list of previous winners. However, I don’t just consider this to be merely a prize but also see it as an incentive for me to engage in further social commitment.”
Alongside the members of the Laureus family, around 200 prominent guests from the media, sports, social and business communities were also present at the tenth staging of the event – the first time it has been held in Berlin. Among the guests were Laureus World Sports Academy Members Franz Beckenbauer and Franz Klammer.
The 2014 Laureus Media Prize for the Greatest Commitment for Laureus went to Laureus Ambassador Jens Lehmann for his outstanding commitment as the patron of the Kicking Girls project.
He said: “I am extremely pleased to have received this prize. But for me, social commitment is something which comes naturally and my dedication to Laureus really is a subject which is very close to my heart. Of course the girls’ football project Kicking Girls is very dear to me and I am supporting it as a Laureus Ambassador and Patron.
“During my active career, I myself experienced how the colour of people’s skin, the country they come from or the religion they believe in all have no part to play on the football pitch. It’s the team spirit which counts. And this is precisely what Laureus conveys through its projects: sport has the power to change the world,” explained Jens Lehmann.
Additional prize winners include:
Spirit of Laureus – Print: Mannheimer Morgen
Spirit of Laureus – TV: SPORT1
Spirit of Laureus – Online: focus.de
Laureus Media Prize for a Social Sports Project: High Five e.V.
Social Media – Photo: Rainer Krugmann
Social Media – Video: Thomas Goepfert