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Beyond Sport Global Awards Announces Finalists for Courageous Use of Sport Award

Beyond Sport will celebrate those using sport to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through its support of the ‘Courageous Use of Sport Award.’ The prestigious Beyond Sport Global Awards will take place on July 26, 2017 at the One World Observatory, New York City, NY.

The ‘Courageous Use of Sport Award’, presented by WWE, will showcase individual bravery in the face of adversity, using sport as the platform to tackle complex social issues in areas of conflict. The four shortlisted individuals – Hajar Abulfazl (Afghanistan women's Football National Player; Youth Delegate, United Nations; Athlete Ambassador, Shirzanan) Mark Kabban (Founder, YALLA), Matt DeMateo (CEO, New Life Centres of Chicagoland) and Manoel Silva (COO, – have courageously challenged the statusquo to make a positive difference in communities around the world.

35 organizations have been shortlisted for the Awards, representing a diverse range of sports and social issues tackled – raising awareness of endangered marine habitats through sailing with fishermen in Vietnam; to the use of triathlon in empowering adolescent girls in Long Island; to a ground-breaking digital media training program which uses football to provide underserved youth with the skills, support and a public platform to make their voices heard. This year’s shortlist represents issues such as: health, gender, STEM education, equality, climate change, accessibility and inclusion, tech and employability – with all organizations highlighting sports’ role in meeting the UN SDGs.

These organizations will convene in New York as part of a two-day program – Beyond Sport United – supported by the major US leagues. The program will see sports teams, leagues and brands come together with global development organizations, grassroot practitioners, social movement and campaigning entities, and international sports governing bodies to explore where sport’s role is in the current socio-political landscape.

Biographies of shortlisted individuals

Hajar Abufazl, Afghanistan women's Football National Player; Youth Delegate, United Nations; Athlete Ambassador, Shirzanan

Hajar Abulfazl is an Afghan football player and former captain of the women’s national team. Hajar has held a number of positions that include head of both the women’s and finance committees for the Afghan Football Federation and coaches the Under-17 girls team. Her advocacy work spans female sports empowerment from the grassroots to elite levels. To develop support, she has addressed numerous sports federation and government officials as well as President Ghani.

Mark Kabban, Founder & Executive Director, YALLA

Mark established YALLA to empower immigrant families and their children, using soccer and art to help them develop the knowledge and confidence to pursue their goals. YALLA works in elementary schools with youth from places like Liberia, Iraq, Sudan, Guatemala, El Salvador, Palestine, Afghanistan, and Mexico. Students play in a competitive and developmental soccer program. With emphasis on skill acquisition, individual responsibility to grow as a player, and teamwork. YALLA puts individuals first and that makes the teams strong. YALLA teaches students how to work hard to learn skills and this knowledge/value transfers to other parts of their lives.

Matt DeMateo, CEO, New Life Centres of Chicagoland

Matt has been working with at risk youth in Chicago since 2000. He began serving as a pastor full-time with New Life Community Church in 2006. For years, Matt has overseen all of the community development efforts in Little Village and helped start the Urban Life Skills Program. New Life Centers’ programs bring peace, hope, and reconciliation between rival gangs and curb the epidemic of violence. Little Village has over 2,000 active gang members, the highest rates of youth homicide in the city, and high rates of childhood obesity. 

Manoel Silva, COO,

Manoel has been working with for 7 years and has led the operational delivery of multi-purpose sport spaces in some of the most disadvantaged and dangerous communities in the world. His work focuses on the community integration aspect of the programs, bringing together local actors with corporate partners to ensure community empowerment and sustainability.


Teams and Leagues from around the world to convene at Beyond Sport United