LAUREUS FOOTBALL LEGEND RAÚL TAKES A JIUJITSU LESSON TO INSPIRE YOUNG NEW YORKERS

  • Laureus Ambassador Raúl says: ‘This really is the way to change young people’s lifes and make a difference’
  • Former Real Madrid hero takes youngsters from Fight Back project to watch New York Cosmos match
  • Laureus Sport for Good Foundation supports over 150 projects around the world and has improved the lives of millions
  • Exclusive pictures of Raul in New York at www.laureusarchive.com

NEW YORK, June 14, 2015 – Spanish football legend and Laureus Ambassador Raúl, currently a star of the New York Cosmos team, delighted youngsters today on a visit to a deprived area of the Bronx, when he tried his skills in the very different world of martial arts and jiujitsu.

Raúl, one of Real Madrid’s greatest players who scored a record 323 goals in his 16-year career there, as well as playing more than 100 times for Spain, was at the Laureus-supported Fight Back programme, where teenagers learn self-defence and build confidence and self-esteem through martial arts.

He said: “It has been a great experience for me to come to this Laureus project in the Bronx and be with the boys and girl from Fight Back. I was amazing to see all they do and how successful they are with the martial arts with all those trophies they won, and more importantly I saw first-hand how they are taught great values. I was very impressed with the discipline that these kids have which you need for martial arts. It was a very emotional day for me.This really is the way to change lives and make a difference.

Raúl, full name Raúl Gonzales Blanco, is one of Spain’s best ever footballers. After his Real Madrid career, he played for Schalke 04 in Germany and Al Saad in Qatar, before moving to New York Cosmos in the North American Soccer League. He became an Ambassador for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation last November.

The day before his visit to Fight Back, which is based at the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Centre in Corona, Bronx, Raúl had arranged for some of the young people from the project to be his special guests at the Cosmos match against Jacksonville Armada.

Fight Back helps women at risk of abuse. They are usually African-American or Hispanic, sometimes unemployed, and always poor. They need the confidence and skills that self defence classes teach. The jiujitsu plays an important part in building self-respect, which is vital if they are going to improve their lives.

The project also uses jiujitsu to keep kids out of gangs and offers them positive sporting alternatives. In a community like the Bronx, where toughness and macho behaviour is important for young people, the martial arts have a natural appeal. The aim is to make the youngsters realise that it is not necessary to fight in the street or pick up a knife or a gun to get respect.

One of the young adults who came to the project for help was Michael Quiles. Now he is an instructor and his life has been turned round. He said: “When I first came to Fight Back, I didn’t like anybody. The one thing I commend Fight Back for is never giving up on me, no matter how bad I was or unrespectful. Fight Back never gives up on people they see potential in. When I walked in here, it just gave me another family.

Will Lawton, founder and sensei (teacher) of Fight Back, said: “Most of the kids that come to me, whether their parents bring them or not, it’s about the confidence and the self-esteem. Kids that are bullied don’t have that self-esteem. Just let me get to that nerve.

The mission of the Laureus Foundation 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 and health problems like obesity. Since its inception, Laureus has raised more than €60 million to support projects which have helped to improve the lives of millions of young people. Currently Laureus supports more than 150 community sports-based projects around the world.

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Laureus is a universal movement that celebrates the power of sport to bring people together as a force for good. Laureus is composed of three core elements - the Laureus World Sports Academy, Laureus Sport for Good and the Laureus World Sports Awards - which collectively celebrate sporting excellence and use sport as the means to promote social change. The first Patron of Laureus was Nelson Mandela. At the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000, he said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.” This has become the philosophy of Laureus; the driving force behind its work. The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy are: Giacomo Agostini, Marcus Allen, Franz Beckenbauer, Boris Becker, Ian Botham, Sergey Bubka, Cafu, Bobby Charlton, Sebastian Coe, Nadia Comaneci, Yaping Deng, Marcel Desailly, Kapil Dev, Mick Doohan, David Douillet, Rahul Dravid, Luis Figo, Emerson Fittipaldi, Sean Fitzpatrick (Chairman), Dawn Fraser, Cathy Freeman, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Mika Häkkinen, Tony Hawk, Maria Höfl-Riesch, Mike Horn, Miguel Indurain, Michael Johnson, Kip Keino, Franz Klammer, Tegla Loroupe, Dan Marino, Yao Ming, Edwin Moses, Nawal El Moutawakel, Li Na, Robby Naish, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, Alexey Nemov, Jack Nicklaus, Brian O’Driscoll, Alessandro Del Piero, Gary Player, Morné du Plessis, Hugo Porta, Carles Puyol, Raúl, Steve Redgrave, Vivian Richards, Monica Seles, Mark Spitz, Sachin Tendulkar, Daley Thompson, Alberto Tomba, Steve Waugh, Katarina Witt, Li Xiaopeng and Yang Yang. The Laureus Academy Members volunteer their services as global ambassadors for Laureus Sport for Good, which was set up to promote the use of sport as a tool for social change. Laureus Sport for Good addresses social challenges through a worldwide programme of sports related community development initiatives. Since its inception, Laureus has raised over €100 million for projects which have helped to improve the lives of millions of young people. The mission of Laureus Sport for Good is to use sport as a means to combat some of the toughest social challenges facing young people today such as violence and crime, discrimination, unemployment, lack of education and health threats including HIV/AIDS and obesity. The Laureus World Sports Awards is the premier global sports awards honouring the greatest sportsmen and women across all sports each year. The winners are selected by the ultimate sports jury – 60 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, the living legends of sport honouring the great athletes of today. The Awards are presented at an annual Awards Ceremony, attended by global figures from sport and entertainment, which is broadcast to 160 countries and territories. The Awards continue to support Laureus Sport for Good by showcasing the incredible work it does with athletes and partners to transform the lives of individuals and promoting to a global audience the power of sport as a development tool to combat challenging social issues. Laureus was founded by its Patrons Richemont and Daimler and is supported by its Global Partners Mercedes-Benz and IWC Schaffhausen. Mercedes-BenzMercedes-Benz is the inventor of the automobile – and has been passionately shaping its future since 1886. As pioneers in automotive engineering, it is both our inspiration and responsibility to continue the tradition of the brand with trailblazing technologies and high-quality products. Like no other trademark in the automotive world, Mercedes-Benz appeals to both the hearts and minds of its customers. We give our very best for customers who expect the very best. Since the founding fathers Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz, our corporate history has been one of innovation and pioneering achievements. Many technical innovations that are nowadays standard in automobiles first entered the market in a Mercedes-Benz. This is the basis for our claim to leadership in automotive engineering. The brand stands for Modern Luxury, and enjoys an outstanding reputation for quality, safety, comfort, design and comprehensive, sustainable mobility. IWC SchaffhausenWith a clear focus on technology and development, the Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen has been producing timepieces of lasting value since 1868. The company has gained an international reputation based on a passion for innovative solutions and technical ingenuity. One of the world’s leading brands in the luxury watch segment, IWC crafts masterpieces of haute horlogerie at their finest, combining supreme precision with exclusive design. As an ecologically and socially responsible company, IWC is committed to sustainable production, supports institutions around the globe in their work with children and young people and maintains partnerships with organisations dedicated to climate and environmental protection.

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