Philadelphia to host Beyond Sports summit

Many of the leading figures in the sports world are expected to converge on Philadelphia in September for an international conference promoting the use of sports to trigger social change.

From September 9 to 11, the city will host the third annual Beyond Sport Summit, following similar conferences last year in London and the year before in Cape Town, South Africa. The event will be run by Beyond Sport, a global organization founded in 2009 and chaired by Tony Blair, the former British prime minister.

Its stated goal is to use sports to facilitate social change in communities around the world. Its successes include roles in a youth basketball program stemming gang violence in several Chicago neighborhoods, a Columbian soccer program credited with increasing school attendance to 98 percent, the creation of a UN working group to promote education and sports for young women and promotion of youth sports opportunities throughout Tanzania.

“With this announcement, Philadelphia is without doubt the greatest sports town in the United States of America,” Mayor Nutter said Wednesday as plans for the conference were made public.  The mayor was flanked by two of the city’s retired sports stars, Brian Dawkins of the Philadelphia Eagles and Dikembe Mutombo of the 76ers, plus Christina Weiss Lurie, president of the Eagles Youth Partnership, Eagles president Don Smolenski and the founder of Beyond Sport, Nick Keller, a former amateur rugby player in England.

All of the city’s professional teams are supporting the event, joined by the Philadelphia Sports Congress and major corporate sponsors.  The Eagles, which were named the organization’s sports team of the year in 2011 for its activities off the field, are a host partner, along with Aramark, Lincoln Finance Group and NRG Energy.

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