Check out what happened when Nico caught up with Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy and all-round sporting legend Edwin Moses to talk about the fantastic work of the Laureus #DriveForGood campaign!
Edwin Moses: We’re here for a very big week in Shanghai. We’ve been engaged as an organisation in China since 2013. We’ve been doing projects over here. To host the awards last year, we were in Kuala Lumpur. Now, after many years of wanting to come to China, it finally has happened, so on Wednesday 15th April, we’ll be having the 16th Laureus World Sports Awards. And it’s particularly an honour for us to have Nico as one of our ambassadors. As a member of the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team, he is also one of the nominees for the award. #DriveForGood is a remarkable campaign and we are delighted that Nico has associated himself with it. The better he drives, the more it’s going to help kids all around the world. Our Ambassadors do a lot of activities for a lot of organisations. We are very proud that, with Nico’s help, we can raise money for children in need. Thanks also for all the support given by Mercedes in general and specifically of course to Nico. We are delighted to have him on board.
Nico Rosberg: In my life, I’ve learned a lot about commitment, drive, discipline, respect for others and teamwork. I’ve learned all that through sport. I had to learn those lessons early on in my career. Because you can’t have success in racing without all that. It’s a matter of personal development. It definitely put me in the right direction in life and gave me great opportunities. That’s what Laureus is all about: giving young people around the world the chance to make similar progress for themselves, and giving them hope and teaching them respect and determination, and hopefully of course, offering them a better future. It’s great to be a part of it. And now, I guess, there’s a lot of pressure on me, because for every leading kilometre that I have in the remaining races of the season, Mercedes will donate 100 euros to Laureus. Hopefully, that will add up to many hundreds of kilometres and many hundreds of euros by the end of the year. Ideally, starting tomorrow. I wish you great success on Wednesday. It’s going to be a big night, and it’s so prestigious in the world of sport. As a team, I firmly believe that we deserve to win. Unfortunately for us, though, we are up against the German national football squad as nominees for the Team of the Year. That will be seriously tough opposition. Both teams fully deserve it. Let’s see how the voting goes. If we get it, that’s great. But if the German national team wins, they deserve it just as much. They will probably be our strongest opponent in the poll. It was nice to see you [Edwin Moses] here today. It’s been an interesting day, and thanks for all the work you do on behalf of Laureus.
Can you talk about what the money will be used for?
NR: Very good question!
EM: As an organisation, we are very efficient. This money will be earmarked specifically for projects. It won’t go to administration. We’re going to finance projects with it. For 100,000 to 200,000 dollars, we can find two or three projects around the world and keep them viable. 50,000 euros in some parts of the world is equivalent to half a million dollars elsewhere. We hope that everyone is looking forward to seeing Nico out at the front and that we mirror him so that we raise a lot of money. We’ll worry about the details later. But for now, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that he will be winning a lot. And one thing I might say in relation to the Laureus Academy members, almost every one of them has a unique story of how they got involved in sports and how unlikely their involvement would have seemed at the time. We have a gymnast who started out as a diver until someone suggested that she made the switch. Everyone knows about Sean Fitzpatrick or my own story. All of us have a real commitment to doing something, because we all grew up as normal kids. I didn’t have the ambition to go to the Olympics. I didn’t have any idea even four months before I went to the Olympics and won. [Comment addressed to Nico] I met your dad in 2001 at the first Formula 1 race I came to with Mercedes in Spa, and he was talking about you. This was 15 years ago. We all have an impetus to do good in sports. We’re just happy that your dad was right! You’ve done a great job. Now you’re here to help us.
How do you assess the value of your association with Formula 1?
EM: Mercedes is a great company that have been behind us for 15 years. One of the founding patrons of the whole Laureus concept. Thanks to them, we can come to events like this and engage with the top drivers. David Coulthard and Mika Häkkinen have always been involved. Michael Schumacher and other drivers came to the awards. So we’ve got a lot of participation from the absolute best in Formula 1, coming to the awards, helping us with projects.
NR: This weekend, I’m wearing Laureus branding in many different places on my overall and on the rear wing of the car. And I think the value of that for a normal sponsor would be something like 10 million dollars. Okay, maybe not for just a single race, but 10 million divided by 20 would still be 500,000. What we’re doing here is giving Laureus brand awareness, and that means more money coming in and more support going to the children. This is a fantastic opportunity that we have here in our sport. To display the brand and bring it out.
What is the overall budget for all your projects?
EM: We started off with one of our sponsors, Richemont, giving us half a million euros and Mercedes-Benz another half million euros. That was where we started from in year one of the foundation. To date, we’ve given away over 70 million euros. We have about 140 projects in 40 different countries around the world. So we’ve affected around two million children with our projects, collectively. We have nine national foundations around the world. So we started with a concept, and I’ve been chairman the whole time. In the beginning, we didn’t know precisely what we would do – we just knew that we were going to do something good. We have put together an organisation. During the year, we have 30 employees; during the awards ceremony period, this goes up to 60 people. We’ve stood the test of time. The Academy members love what they’re doing. On average, we spend between 350 to 400 Academy days per year, which means we always have at least one Academy member doing something in some part of the world, and that doesn’t include the ambassadors such as Nico. Because they do as much as we do. There’s only so many trips that we can make a year. So we have other people who are doing a lot more than we are. And it’s a family, really a family. We believe in it. It’s been the passion of my life. Other than running – athletics – there’s nothing else I’ve done for 15 years of my life.
NR: Do you still run?
EM: Not much! I’ve run about 27,000 miles in my life. I feel like I’ve done enough.
How many ambassadors are there?
EM: Worldwide there are between 150 and 200. We have some great people that come to the events every year – some of the best in the world. We are fortunate that people really believe in our organisation and that we are not perceived as anything close to being an organisation of celebrities. We do what we say we’re going to do. We have become a model for other organisations around the world over the years.
NR: I would like to say one more thing. I’ll be donating my race suit this weekend for Laureus. I hope that the bidding goes very high on that, and hopefully it will also be the race-winning suit tomorrow.
EM: Nico has already brought this up – the logos on the cars are just major. This is one of the biggest things that has happened to us in the history of Laureus. Our logo from our foundation will be displayed on a Formula 1 car that will be seen by hundreds of millions of people around the world. That is something really significant for us. Because many of the Academy members have always said Laureus has this connection with Mercedes-Benz and we should be on the car. But it really takes special effort to make it happen. And Nico has made it happen for us. Because there’s a lot of value there. Thanks a lot for this.
Why is the awards ceremony taking place in Shanghai this year?
EM: The reason it’s here has nothing to do with Formula 1 or Mercedes. We’ve been wanting to come for a long time. Discussions have been going on for quite some time. Why were we in Malaysia last year? Because we had some circumstances that didn’t allow us to go back to our previous city. Malaysia turned out to be the place. Kuala Lumpur is a wonderful city. This time last year, we were in talks with the government here in Shanghai. But we weren’t sure that we were going to come here. We get offers from other cities all the time. But now the time has come for us to be here. We first had contact with China in 2003, so it’s been twelve years.
Will the drivers stay for the awards?
EM: No, I think they have to go. Because the next race weekend starts on Friday with free practice.
NR: Do you know who will be there for the German national team?
EM: I saw the names but I couldn’t tell you because I’m an American, and we don’t play as much soccer... We play baseball, football, basketball.