Laureus Awards – the ‘Oscars of Sports’ – and Its India Connect
Video Editor: Prashant Chauhan
The 20th edition of the Laureus World Sports Awards is headed to Berlin and the organisers are pulling out all the stops to make the 17 February 2020 event a special one.
The Quint spoke to Jonathan Hill, CEO of the Laureus World Sports Awards, about the decision to move the event to Germany this year, their plans for the 20th anniversary, and also, Laureus’ India connect.
The 20th Anniversary Awards are going to be a special one for Laureus. What do you have planned?
“We announced recently in Berlin that we will be going to Berlin for our 20th anniversary awards. We have lots of plans in place for the show, which is going to be extremely special.
We have a number of events around the awards so yes, we will use the anniversary to make sure we shout very loudly and proudly about everything we have done over these 20 years.”
How tough is it to decide on a date for the Awards? Do you check the sports calendar and try to ensure you have a date where some of the players likely to win aren’t competing?
“Yes, we look really closely at the schedule. For us, March is around the ideal point. We look very closely at everything and then we cross our fingers and hope that all of the people who are nominated and all of the people who win the awards can make the awards. I don’t think we have yet had an awards ceremony where every single winner has been able to be there but we’re secretly hoping that in 2020 we will have the best turnout ever.”
Any Indians you foresee finishing in the list of nominees this time?
“I would imagine that Virat Kohli would again be very much at the top of their thinking when it comes to ‘Global Sportsman of the Year’. We also know that PV Sindhu, for example, has had a fantastic year in relation to badminton and we know that she’s very well-known and much loved and respected within India.
So, first of all, I would like to see them on the shortlist. Look, it was great last year to have a female Indian sportsperson in Vinesh get to the full nominee list. She was on the comeback side of things and unfortunately, she was up against Tiger Woods so it was always going to be difficult for her to win it, but she came to the awards with her husband, had a great time and was a fantastic ambassador for Indian sport and actually, female Indian sport.”
You’ve been part of the Laureus World Sports Awards for a few years now. Any one lasting memory from the event that you remember fondly?
“I think for me, and I’m not just saying this because I’m talking to an Indian audience here, but the girls from our YUWA project, when they were on stage, and actually across the whole weekend, were absolutely captivating and said everything that we wanted to say about the power of sport to change young people’s lives.
When they were on stage and accepting their award and when Nita stood in front of a whole group of very famous people and spoke as fluently as anyone had done on the awards stage that night – I think that was a very proud moment for her, a very proud moment for India and definitely a very… personally emotive moment for me. So, it would probably would be my favourite to date.”
The Laureus Sports Foundation puts in a lot of work all year round, even when the Awards are not on. Could you tell us about some of the work you’ve been doing in India?
“I think probably the best-known programme that we run in India – we have five in total at the moment and have been working in India for the whole of our 20 years – the best known one is Magic Bus.
Magic Bus won our ‘Laureus Sport for Good’ award in 2014 and so has been recognised already by Laureus for its fantastic work. It used football, cricket and kabaddi to actually work with young girls, to address some of the societal issues such as early marriage and exclusion from school and it does that in a brilliant way.
So we’re extremely proud of what they have done over the period we have been connected with them and yes, we use that as a template for our other projects and programmes within India.”