André Villas-Boas launches report which shows sport can fight gang culture and juvenile crime

by Mystical Mike

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

New Laureus ambassador André Villas-Boas launches report which shows sport can fight gang culture and juvenile crime

  • Urban Stars Report reveals 80% of young people in Laureus projects say they will stay away from gangs in future
  • Research found 30% reduction in crime re-offending rate in prison leavers who had taken part in Urban Stars project
  • ‘It’s great to see young people turning their lives around’ says new Laureus Ambassador Tottenham Hotspur Head Coach André Villas-Boas
  • Pictures of visit available at

LONDON, January 16, 2013 –
 Local community sports projects are highly effective ways to beat youth crime, gang culture and anti-social behaviour, according to a ground-breaking report published today.

The report, commissioned by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and launched by Tottenham Hotspur Head Coach André Villas-Boas, shows that 80% of youngsters who take part in such programmes said they wer e more likely to stay away from gangs and were more optimistic about their future.
The findings come from research undertaken at Urban Stars sports-based projects in London, the West Midlands and Gloucestershire. Urban Stars is a flagship programme for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation in the United Kingdom and is operated by Active Communities Network, a strategic partner of Laureus, the global sports charity.

Urban Stars uses football and a variety of other sports to overcome social and cultural barriers and improve young people’s lives.

André Villas-Boas, who is also named today as the newest Laureus Ambassador, was present at the Urban Stars project at Walworth Academy, south L ondon, for the launch of the report. He met young people at the project and conducted a football training session.

He said: “Laureus has shown over the years that it understands how to help young people through sports projects and this research is very significant. I am passionate about how football can help young people in the community. This is something we also try very hard to do at Tottenham Hotspur through our Foundation.

“It’s great to see Urban Stars using football in London to help young people turn their lives around and becoming valuable members of the community. Laureus has once again proved that sports projects are highly effective when it comes to giving young people an alternative to gangs and youth crime and giving them a more positive outlook.”

The research was conducted through questionnaires and focus groups with more than 250 participants and projects leaders from the Urban Stars programmes. Interviews were also held with local authorities, teachers and ancillary workers from schools, youth development workers, sports coaches and local residents.
Urban Stars uses football and various other sports to overcome social and cultural barriers and improve young people’s lives.

An average of 80% of participants who were asked in the survey said they were now more likely to stay away from gangs after attending the project. In the West Midlands, where Urban St ars uses boxing to engage young people, the figure reached a massive 94%.

Since its inception, Urban Stars in Gloucestershire has engaged with residents at Ashfield prison and youth offenders institution, many of whom have received support during post-custody resettlement. Researchers talked to prison leavers and found that the programme achieved a 30% reduction in re-offending rates among those who participated compared with the national average.

Among the other findings from the research are:

•    69% of the youngsters had improved confidence about their future

•    65% said they had improved social skills as a result of attending the projects

•    76% said they were more likely to help other people in their daily life

Youth crime and anti-social behaviour costs the UK Government an estimated £4 billion a year and one in five young people admit to being involved in some way at some time.

The Urban Stars projects work with young people, aged 13-19, who are described as vulnerable, marginalised and disadvantaged, with more than half not in formal education and almost 90% not in training. Most are living against a back drop of anti-social behaviour, active gangs and gun and knife crime.

Lead researcher Professor Andrew Parker from the University of Gloucestershire said: “What the findings of this report clearly show is that the Urban Stars initiative is meeting its aims and objectives to use sport to engage young people who are identified as marginalised, vulnerable, or ‘at risk’ of social exclusion. The report also demonstrates that sport can be effective not only in engaging marginalised youth but in tackling youth crime and reducing re-offending. At the same time it can provide a variety of support mechanisms and educational/life course pathways.”

Gary Stannett, Chief Executive Officer of Active Communities Network, said: “This research evidences our belief that sport can act as a catalyst for both personal and community enhancement when delivered by quality staff in local neighbourhoods. We are proud of o ur strategic alignment with Laureus and would like to thank them and St James’s Place Foundation for their support in developing and delivering these projects across the UK and Northern Ireland.”

Laureus is a global leader in research, expertise and best practice in supporting grassroots sports programmes around the world. In the last two years, Laureus has commissioned two similar reports – Teenage Kicks and Sport Scores – which analysed results from projects in Germany, Italy and the UK and which demonstrated that on average for every £1 of €1 invested in these projects costs to society were reduced by an average of £5 or €5. These savings come from reducing costs to victims of crime, police, the courts and health care.

Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman Edwin Mose s said: “I would very much like to welcome André Villas-Boas to the Laureus Family and to thank him for the commitment he is making today to become an Ambassador and to be with us at the launch of this important report. The Laureus Ambassadors play a vital role in promoting the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation which has helped so many disadvantaged young people over the years. It is wonderful to see great young coaches like André, who believe in the importance of giving back to society, joining us and helping us to achieve our goals.”

The Laureus Ambassadors are a select group of current and retired sportsmen and sportswomen, who, along with the members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, support the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, which uses sport as the means to combat some of the world’s toughest social challenges facing young people today such as juvenile crime, gangs, gun and knife violence, HIV/AIDS, discrimination, social exclusion, landmines awareness and health problems like obesity.

Since its inception, Laureus has raised over €60 million for projects which have helped to improve the lives of more than one-and-a-half million young people. It currently supports around 140 community sports projects in 34 countries.

The St James Place Foundation (SJP) supports the Laureus Urban Stars programme across the United Kingdom. Urban Stars is delivered by Active Communities Network in London, Birmingham and Manchester. New projects started in 2012, thanks to funding from SJP, include Urban Stars in Belfast, Bristol and Glasgow.

PruHealth is the Country Patron of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation in the United Kingdom.

Laureus Sport for Good Foundation


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  • melvin polatnick

    Urban gang members are making a livable wage selling drugs and occasionally guns. It will be counterproductive if their source of income were curbed by narcotic squads; they would then turn to home invasion and mugging in order to survive. Narcotic cops should shift their attention to busting unaffiliated drug addicts who are on public assistance; their slovenly appearance makes them easy to spot.

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