MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Mick Doohan and Andre Villas-Boas with some of the participants of the Piala Mamee 1Malaysia Under-19 football tournament.

SOME of Malaysia’s most talented young footballers were given the thrill of a lifetime when they met Laureus Sport for Good Foundation Ambassadors Mick Doohan and Andre Villas-Boas and took part in a lively discussion on the subject of ‘Overcoming challenges through sport’.

Top football coach Villas-Boas, who has managed Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham, and five-time 500cc world motor cycle champion Mick Doohan, spent time with the players at the Piala Mamee 1Malaysia Under-19 football tournament, the finals of which are being held in Bangi, and also handed out prizes to the third and fourth placed teams.

The football tournament, which is supported by charity Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia (YR1M), has been taking place across Malaysia and has now reached the final stages. The visit came just days after Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman Edwin Moses had been in Kuala Lumpur to announce an innovative tie-up between Laureus and YR1M to benefit young people in Malaysia through the use of sport.

Andre Villas-Boas said: “I am passionate about how football can help in the community and Laureus has shown over the years that it understands how to make a difference to young people’s lives through sport. It was great to spend time talking and listening to the players. Malaysia is a wonderful country and I am glad that the Laureus World Sports Awards are being held here next month. That will be a great success, I know, but just as important is the fact that Laureus is working with YR1M to help young people and to ensure that we leave a legacy far beyond the Awards.”

In the future, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which currently supports more than 140 sports-based community projects in 34 countries, will be developing social programmes in Malaysia in collaboration with YR1M.

Doohan said: “Laureus is founded on a belief in the inspirational power of sport and we have seen how it can transform lives all over the world. Laureus has proved time and again that sports projects are highly effective when it comes to giving young people self-esteem and better hope for their futures. Working with such excellent partners as YR1M will allow us to extend our activities in Malaysia and hopefully make a real difference in the country.”

Ung Su Ling, Chief Executive Officer of Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia, said: “We are very pleased with today’s visit with André Villas-Boas and Mick Doohan. This cements the relationship between our two organisations. It is clear that international sports stars like the two Laureus Ambassadors are able to inspire our Malaysian youth and make a big difference to their lives.”

Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia is a charitable foundation dedicated towards benefitting Malaysians from all walks of life in line with the principles of 1Malaysia. The Foundation’s activities are geared towards engaging and helping Malaysians, particularly the less fortunate and those in need, and to equip them with building blocks to achieve a better quality of life. Towards this end, the Foundation focuses on three areas – Improving quality of life, education and sports.

The Kejohanan Bolasepak Piala Mamee 1Malaysia football tournament, is one of the elements of the sports programme, and has seen 1,440 players, aged between 17 and 19 in 80 teams competing across the country. Now the top 10 teams have reached the Grand Finals in Kuala Lumpar, which Moses attended.

Doohan and Villas-Boas are members of the Laureus Family who volunteer their time to act as global ambassadors for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, whose mission is to use sport as the means to combat some of the world’s toughest social challenges facing young people today such as juvenile crime, gangs, HIV/AIDS, discrimination, social exclusion, lack of education, landmines awareness and health problems such as obesity.

The 15th Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during the calendar year 2013, will be unveiled at a globally televised Awards Ceremony staged at the Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on March 26. Proceeds from the Laureus World Sports Awards directly benefit and underpin the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Since its inception, Laureus has raised over €60 million to support community sports projects around the world.

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