Beyond Sport is an innovative, global organization, located in London, and founded in 2009, based on a simple principle: Sports should play an active, positive role in sustainable social change around the world. Beyond Sport celebrates non-profits all over the world, who through the prism of sports, address a host of serious social issues, including conflict resolution, diversity and inclusion, education and, of most interest to GreenSportsBlog, environment and climate change. GSB recently caught up with Adam Hall, Beyond Sport’s Director of The Americas. We discussed the organization’s North American expansion plans as well as building up its environmental efforts.
GreenSportsBlog: Adam, after you moved to New York from London, how has the first year been for Beyond Sport after setting up a US office?
Adam Hall: Beyond Sport is the leading global force in the convening of organizations involved in “sport for social change.” Having a permanent presence in the US has enabled us not only to work closer with our existing partners but also establish new relationships and create new events to promote the power of sport in changing lives. We launched the Beyond Soccer series powered by streetfootballworld*, in partnership with Barclays and MLS, to gather key leaders and influencers from the world of soccer and explore the role of soccer in breaking down barriers and tackling social issues in communities worldwide; we have partnered with The Guardian to create Guardian Late Lunch, an exclusive roundtable event highlighting the principle issue of diversity and inclusion in sport; we have re-affirmed our relationship with ESPN with the continuation of the ESPN Leadership Dinner series, where top executives from the world of sport, business and politics unite to discuss the importance of effective leadership through sport; and we have been able to work closer with our Founding Partners: MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL and the WNBA, collaborating on the issues that sit at the heart of their community work, bringing it all together at Beyond Sport United, our flagship event here in the US.
Adam Hall (l), Beyond Sport’s Director of the Americas. (Photo credit: Monica Schipper/Getty Images North America)
GSB: Wow you have been busy! I was fortunate enough to attend Beyond Sport United and was so inspired by the incredible work achieved by sport-for-development non-profits… The event hosted at the Prudential Center in Newark was outstanding.
AH: Thanks, Lew; it was a great event. We were very fortunate to have the Commissioners of Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NHL on stage… This year’s Beyond Sport United will be hosted at Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center on August 9 and we are very excited to convene a broad group of stakeholders–leagues, teams, athletes, non-profits, and corporations—for a day packed full of inspirational insight, celebrating the most exciting, and impactful organizations using sport as a tool to accelerate positive social change.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver (l) with WNBA legend Teresa Edwards and Dikembe Mutombo, humanitarian and former NBA star, at Beyond Sport United 2015 in Newark. The 2016 event will be held at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on August 9. (Photo credit: Monica Schipper/Getty Images North America)
GSB: Talk a bit about the types of organizations Beyond Sport looks to celebrate.
AH: We highlight sport organizations operating in 5 pillars: education, health, social inclusion or diversity, conflict resolution–including groups bringing sport to refugees–and, or course, the environment.
GSB: What these organizations do is, well, beyond amazing. One of my personal favorites is Skateistan, a non-profit that uses skateboarding as a tool for youth empowerment in Afghanistan. Readers, if you can’t make it to one of the Beyond Sport events, check out their website to get a fuller sense of the phenomenal sport-for-development organizations they promote as well as the positive impacts these groups make. Now, it seems to me that the environment pillar is not as developed as the others. Is that a fair perception? And is building the environment pillar on the Beyond Sport agenda for 2016?
AH: We work in collaborative manner with a number of different of partners to promote a wide range of social issues. It is fair to say sustainability and the environment pillar are not as developed as the rest but we are working in partnership with Green Sports Alliance to change this and bring it to forefront. Going forward, where possible we want to tie environment into our other areas, finding environmental organizations that are working in, say the “Diversity & Inclusion” area.
GSB: I can’t wait to see what that looks like. In the meantime, what does the next six months look like for Beyond Sport events in the US?
AH: Our goal, in terms of our US events, is to spread our wings geographically. To this point, we have been New York-to-Philadelphia based, now we’re scheduled for or planning events in places like Boston, Houston and the Bay Area.
GSB: Tell me a bit more about Beyond Soccer?
AH: In June we hosted our first “Beyond Soccer” event at the Thomson-Reuters Building in Times Square. The focus was on how soccer can lead the way in social responsibility and community development.
GSB: How did it go?
AH: Really well, about 200 people attended–a good mix of folks from leagues, clubs, sponsors and media. Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber was the keynote speaker.
GSB: That’s a good get…How was the event received?
AH: It was very well received–lots of enthusiasm. We followed that up with a second Beyond Soccer event in New York in November, also well received, centered on access to soccer for women and girls and what that means for their lives.
GSB: What’s on the docket next?
AH: We’re moving Beyond Soccer to the west coast, hosting Beyond Soccer Powered by streetfootballworld in San Francisco on June 23rd.
GSB: Congratulations! I know this will sound redundant but what’s beyond…Beyond Soccer?
AH: Our aforementioned ESPN Leadership Dinners in New York bring together an audience made up of at least 65 CEO’s and other influencers. In March 2015 the headliner was the CEO of MLS’ NYCFC. In June, we came back with the President of the World Boxing Council.
GSB: For GreenSportsBlog, building awareness of the sports-greening movement is crucial. I imagine the same is true for Beyond Sport. How do you get the word out to the broader public about the great work being done by the non-profits in the Beyond Sport orbit?
AH: Great question, Lew. And I agree. Media coverage is crucial. In addition to the Late Lunch program, we recently started a partnership with The Guardian to push out stories…
GSB: That is GREAT! The Guardian, which does a terrific job of marrying purpose to much of its news coverage, will be a great vehicle through which to publicize Beyond Sport. Good luck!
* streetfootballworld is a global non-profit based in Berlin dedicated to unleashing the potential of football/soccer to change the world.
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