Tony Blair Leads Discussion on Sport

26th September 2011

In the build up to Beyond Sport United, Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister and Chairman of Ambassadors for Beyond Sport, met an extraordinary gathering of influential figures from the worlds of sport and business in New York to discuss the ways in which sport can be used as a tool for positive social change across the world.

Mr Blair joined a group of 25 for an intimate breakfast to discuss a wide range of topics, with the positive effects of sport in society high on the agenda. The likes of Bob Diamond, CEO of Barclays – whose 200-plus Barclays Spaces for Sport projects provide a stand-out case study of the impact a corporate social responsibility programme founded in sport can bring – were joined by some of those working hardest to effect change through sport on a daily basis, including Kathy Behrens, Executive VP, Social Responsibility and Player Programmes at the NBA, Bernadette Mansur, Executive VP at the NHL, and Rita Benson LeBlanc, owner of the New Orleans Saints.

The gathering came ahead of one of the most important moments in the history of that field. On Tuesday 27th September at Yankee Stadium, Beyond Sport United will bring together the greatest global gathering of sport teams ever to assemble to discuss their role in social change. Owners, Presidents and senior figures from a host of MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL and WNBA teams will be joined by the representatives of clubs from as far afield as England, Italy, Kenya, Israel and Australia to explore the positive impact teams can have in their local communities.

Mr Blair commented: "One of the reasons I’m connected with Beyond Sport is that I think sport is hugely important in terms of social policy, healthcare and anti-crime policy. I spent ten years as prime minister trying to get the system to accept that sports policy was a mainstream issue. I think what is undeniably true is that the civic society elements in the sports world do a great job, and governments should always try to encourage them and support them. Beyond Sport continues to prove how effective that work can be."

Nick Keller, Founder of Beyond Sport, added: “Tony Blair’s support for Beyond Sport has been immeasurable. As we prepare for what will be a truly inspiring day, with so many teams and leagues gathered at Beyond Sport United to discuss their place in the Beyond Sport movement, to bring such a powerful group together is testament to his own passion and dedication to this cause.”

Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA); the National Football League (NFL); the National Hockey League (NHL); Major League Soccer (MLS); and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) are all signed on as Founding Supporters of Beyond Sport United – the first time the major US sports leagues have collaborated around the issue of sport and social change.

Sports Illustrated has backed the initiative as Official Media Partner.

Beyond Sport United is also partnered with executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles and United who have lent their substantial support to this unique event.

The Beyond Sport Summit and Awards 2011 will take place in Cape Town, South Africa from December 5-8.