Olympic swimming star Missy Franklin has vowed to support young girls from the Laureus Sport for Good Award-winning Yuwa programme in rural Jharkhand, India.
Franklin, who is a Laureus Academy Member, won four gold medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games. She was elected into the Laureus World Sports Academy at the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco.
Her first duty in her new role was to present Yuwa with the prestigious Laureus Sport for Good Award. The orgsation uses football to empower young girls to overcome violence and child marriage and choose their own futures.
Following the Awards, Franklin kept in contact with the team at Yuwa and was invited to join their board.
"I'm so excited to say I've accepted so as well as being a Laureus Academy Member I am also now a board member at Yuwa and doing a lot of work with Franz and Rose for their community out there and for the school that they have for young girls," Franklin, who was forced to retire at 23 due to an injury, said in a statement.
"Laureus bought me to that, it gave me that opportunity and now I have a whole another project that I am just so passionate about because of Laureus," she added.
In her early career, Franklin won five Olympic gold medals and eleven World Championship titles. After retirement, she is determined to use the power of sport for good in her role as the youngest member of the Laureus World Sports Academy.
"It's a dream come true. I'm just so passionate about it. I have time for this now, I get to do this and I still have all that passion that I had for swimming, but in so many different areas of my life now that I really get to pursue," she said.
Due to the current situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Franklin is currently in quarantine in her home in the United States. Hence, her support so far has been virtual, but she intends to make an effort to visit India and meet the girls at Yuwa.
"Ultimately, our plan is to build a permanent girls school there. It is unbelievable what they're doing, and so I'm really, really hoping I can get out there in the future to see everyone and see the girls, and learn a few football skills cause I'm a little lacking in that area!" Franklin said.
She believes the Laureus vision and Laureus Sport for Good can have a positive impact in the fight against Covid-19.
"Laureus has shown through the power of sport, that lives can be changed and impact when we come together, when we all put our hearts and souls behind a cause, for a much greater purpose than just our own. That's really what the world is going through right now, and we have already seen so many beautiful examples of the world coming together and standing united with one another, and... that's a really beautiful thing in a really, really hard time," Franklin said.
"I know I look up to every single one of the Academy members as role models, and for them to use their voice to talk about the importance of that and of coming together, and being united and supporting each other, that makes people listen. Having sporting legends sharing their message of being that good that we can be in our own homes, in our communities, in the world, that is what we all need to be hearing right now," she added.
( With inputs from ANI )