The glory of being the only sports team in this hemisphere nominated as a finalist for the Global Beyond Sport Summit Sports Team of the Year award provided Eagles Youth Partnership executive director Sarah Martinez-Helflman the week of a lifetime in Chicago. The Eagles were edged by Hapoel Tel Aviv for the award, announced on Thursday, but the prestige of being among three world teams (along with the United Kingdom's Manchester United) was not lost on Martinez-Helfman.
"It was an absolutely amazing week to be among so many international figures, politicians and athletes who understand the importance that sports plays for social change," said Martinez-Helfman. "Everyone was on an equal ground. The ideas we exchanged were incredible. I can't wait to get back to Philadelphia and get back to work to implement some of the things I've learned.
"I already have my eye on the prize for next year. In the meantime, I'll take a win on Sunday against Washington!"
Beyond Sport is a global organization that promotes, develops and funds the use of sports to drive positive social change across the world. Its three main drivers are an online global network, an annual summit and the Beyond Sports Awards program, which provides support to projects across the world that use sports to address issues within their communities.
Operating in more than 120 countries and open to organizations in the U.S for the first time this year, Beyond Sport was flooded with applications from 400 organizations. The awards were presented at the Global Beyond Sport Conference in Chicago.
"Hapoel Tel Aviv deserved the award for the incredible work they did," said Martinez-Helfman. "I'm so proud of the Eagles organization for the work we have done, and we know there is so much work ahead. The work in the community is never finished."
Said Eagles President Joe Banner: "We congratulate Hapoel Tel Aviv FC on being selected the winner of the Sports Team of the Year Award. Their Mifalot Chinuch program in Israel and the Palestinian Authority is admirable. We are flattered to be in the company of such incredible organizations that are committed to making a difference. It is a great honor. We all have the same mission, the same determination and achieve results that improve lives in our respective communities. We all are a part of making the world a better place for those who need it the most."
-- Posted by Dave Spadaro, 6:54 p.m., September 30