Magic Bus, an India-based NGO that is transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of underprivileged children in the country, has been recognised at the Laureus World Sports Awards with the presentation of the Laureus Sport for Good Award.
Magic Bus, founded by Englishman Matthew Spacie and based in Mumbai, aims to take children out of poverty through a programme of mentoring and coaching. Since 2001, the Magic Bus programme has grown to embrace over 300,000 children in 12 states each week and Spacie's ambition now is to reach out to one million children by 2016.
Magic Bus, which has received funding from Laureus since its inauguration and which has been a strategic partner of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation for five years, is the product of Spacie's fascination for India which began when, as a 17-year-old taking a break from academic studies, he worked in the Howrah leprosy centre near Kolkata.
Later, while playing rugby for Bombay Gymkhana Club, Spacie sought to use the offer of involvement in the game to improve the prospects of young boys living on the streets and in slums.
Magic Bus, which now looks after both boys and girls, was born out of that initiative and Spacie has plans to extend the idea, centred around sports-based activities and a solid contingent of volunteers, to other countries.
After receiving his Award from Edwin Moses, Chairman of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, in Kuala Lumpur last night, Spacie said: "Fifteen years ago the Magic Bus was started because outside my office there were 15 street boys who one day decided that they wanted to change their journey in life.
"It is now an organisation which has 300,000 children every single week attending our programme on this amazing journey from childhood all the way to livelihood and out of poverty.
"It is a great tribute to the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation that they see the longevity of partnerships like Magic Bus which shape the destiny of so many young people. This Award is really for the tens of thousands of young people in our programme who graduate every year and who have decided to shape their own future," he said.
"Thank you very much to the Academy. This is a magical moment for the Magic Bus."
The Laureus World Sports Awards are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar. The winners are chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury, made up of 46 of the greatest living sportsmen and sportswomen.
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 60 million euro for projects which have improved the lives of millions of young people.
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