Tuesday,14 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1299, (9 - 15 June 2016)
Tuesday,14 August, 2018
Issue 1299, (9 - 15 June 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Sports and peace

At a UN sports day in Cairo, Egyptian athletes vowed to promote sustainable development andpeace, reports Inas Mazhar

Al-Ahram Weekly

During a sports event organised by the United Nations inEgypt, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, 22 top Egyptian athletes pledged to promote world peace and advance the new and universal SustainableDevelopment Goals(SDGs).

At a UN sports day held at the Gezira Youth Centre in Cairo, participating athletes issued a declaration vowing to “advocate for the goals and principles of the UN charterand promotefriendly relations and solidarity between world population groups...within the framework of intercultural dialogue and the alliance ofcivilisations”.

In a declaration read out at the ceremony by history’s most capped football international Ahmed Hassan, the athletes also vowed to “pursue aninternational order based on justice, equality in sovereignty, mutual respect,and human dignity for all”.

The group, comprising famous football pros and world squash champions, reiterated their faith in “the vital role that sport plays in advancingsocieties, and youth in particular, and the noble values it stands for, and thepursuit of excellence and commitment it encourages”.

In his opening remarks, acting UNResident Coordinator in Egypt Al-Mustafa Benlamlisaid that“due to its great popularity, and its power topromote  positive values, inspire and unite people,sport has a significant role to play in achieving the 17 universalSDGs adopted by 193 countries to build a better future of peace, justice and dignity for all.

After hailing such joint activities with the UN system inEgypt, Ambassador Mohamed Kazem of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasised that sports isnot only a tool for entertainment,recreation and fair competition amongindividuals and peoples, “but isalso a major linchpin in the health andprevention system, and isamong the elements of sustainable development”.

Among the many messages recited by athletes during theevent, Hassan tackled the first SDG of endingpoverty in all its forms everywhere, while Tamer Abdel- Hamid, another football star,spoke about education as akeystone for development. Other renownedfootball players dealt with the goals of health, decent employment, supportingrefugees and migrants and other SDGs.

Onthe goal of promoting peaceful andinclusive societies for sustainable development, world squash player NouranGohar said it was“inconceivable to aim for development in the absence of realpeace, genuine justice as well as effective, transparent and accountableinstitutions at all levels. “Sportsis one of the important tools in promotingnational unity and solidarity among different regions and groups of thepopulation,” she said.

Squash starAli Farag dwelt on the key SDG of gender equality, which also seeks empowerment of all women and girls. The young athlete insisted that "this equality is not a luxury, but a prerequisite for development and peace, because women are the first educators of society, and they are a huge economic force being squandered. Gender equality is not only for women but for the whole society, because they build stronger societies for all.

“We men must do our part in changing ideas and practices, and must educate our children on different ideas that allow women equal and effective participation in making decisions and policies."

First advisor of the Youth and Sport Ministry Emad Al-Bananiexpressed hope that such sportsevents and activities promoting causes of peaceand development would be sustained and perpetuated. Hecommendedthe UN forpartnering with Egyptian athletes “to champion these lofty goals”.

The event’s programmekicked off with a friendly game ofsquash between two of the top Egyptian players. Italso featured two friendly football games, the first between the Ministry of ForeignAffairs and its counterpart from the UN family in Egypt. The second pittedtwo teams consisting ofsome of Egypt’s most famousveteran footballers playing against each other. Amartial artsperformance by children organised by UNICEFwas also given.

The event was held under the patronage of Foreign Minister SamehShoukri and Minister of Youth and Sport Khaled Abdel-Aziz.

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