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  • "Champions for Peace: at Our Side for 10 Years"


    09/09/19

    OPINION
    Joël Bouzou
    Peace and Sport President and Founder

    “The date is underscored by a thick line. On Wednesday, 11 December Peace and Sport International Forum 2019 will open in Monaco. It will last for three days. Three days during which speakers and delegates will discuss the role of sport in the peace process. Investing in Peace: Acting through Sport. The words haven’t changed, yet the message is getting stronger. It has probably never been so in line with current events.

    Today, even more than before, sport and sportspeople have a driving role to play – locally, nationally and internationally – to impart the values of solidarity, inclusion, equity and equality. The women’s football World Cup held in France in June and July provided a spectacular illustration of this. The American team not only won the trophy. They also used the media interest in the competition to highlight their fight for equality in the sport between the two sexes. When they returned to the United States, the political world was behind them. They paved the way.

    The 2019 edition of the Peace and Sport International Forum will not be exactly like the others. On Wednesday, 11 December the Champions for Peace Club will celebrate its 10th anniversary. Starting with a handful of athletes, the club now has more than a hundred members and it is constantly growing. These athletes share our ideas, our ambition and our hope. Each of them in their own way, in their sport or in their environment, helps to give these ideas a resonance that was difficult to imagine when the club started a decade ago.

    Champions have always been at the heart of our action at Peace and Sport. They are our foundation, our foremost spokespeople and our most listened-to ambassadors. Didier Drogba is certainly the best example. He is not only committed as a Champion for Peace. Last year, his involvement took a new direction when he accepted the role of Vice President for our organization. Didier Drogba will be present at the 10-year celebration of Champions for Peace in Monaco on Wednesday, 11 December. Some of the most iconic athletes for the cause of peace through sport will be with him to learn from the past ten years and set the vision for the next ten years. This international gathering will include Paula Radcliffe (GBR) Yelena Isinbayeva, (RUS), Sarah Ourahmoune (FRA) Charmaine Crooks (CAN), Marlene Harnois (FRA-CAN), Yohan Blake (JAM) and Christian Karembeu (FRA).

    Over the last ten years Champions for Peace have invested themselves to improve people’s lives through our field programs around the world: for example, Imanol Harinordoquy (FRA) assisting young people without any social or professional activities in France, and Zsolt Moradi (HUN) and Aya Medany (EGY) meeting Syrian refugees from the Za’atari camp in Jordan. They went to see these youngsters to encourage an innovative mindset. Because sport is not just a matter of equipment or performance; it is a universal language that carries positive values useful for future generations. This is the message that Mélissa Plaza (FRA) brought to girls in the AS Monaco Women’s Football Academy, and that Vénuste Niyongabo (BUR) presented to Burundian school children during the Friendship Games.

    These committed athletes have also played a central role in sports diplomacy activities, such as Rohan Bopanna (IND) and Aisam-il-Hag Qureshi (PAK). Both players wore warm-up kits decorated with the slogan “StopWar, StartTennis” at Wimbledon in 2010, demonstrating that Indo-Pakistani friendship is possible. Through their celebrity and dynamism Champions for Peace have added a global dimension to the #WhiteCard digital campaign and to the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace on April 6th.

    Some have achieved Olympic success, others have built a world-class career on football pitches. They come from athletics, boxing, taekwondo, and football. They come from Africa, Europe, and America. They don’t speak the same language. But together, they will celebrate the club’s 10th anniversary on the first day of the 2019 Peace and Sport International Forum. They will do it in their own words. With their hearts. In one shared language: that of peace.”

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