Gala rewards peace projects
SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT / Sports Features Communications
MONACO: Sport’s unique power to cut through barriers of politics, religion, race and creed has been evidenced by a Peace and Sport gala in which headline contributions were singled out in front a 300-strong audience representing sporting, political, commercial and civic life.
The awards were presented at the International Peace and Sport Forum by Prince Albert II of Monaco, patron of Peace and Sport, and by the organisation’s founder and president Joel Bouzou.
The Image of the Year award was presented to Turkey and Armenia for the photograph of the historic handshake between the countries’ state presidents, Abdullah Gül and Serge Sarkissian, at a World Cup tie between the countries in Yerevan in September. The moment marked the end of nearly two decades of diplomatic silence.
Prince Albert presented the award jointly to Armen Grigorian, Armenian Minister of Youth and Sport, and to Mahmut Özgener, president of the Turkish football federation. Bouzou and David Tomatis, chief executive officer of Sportel, described the photograph as “a symbol of hope for two communities whose history has been marked by hostility and pain."
An award for the best peace project from an international sports federation went to Judo for Peace, a commission created by the International Judo Federation. The award was received on their behalf by Marius Vizer, the IJF president, and by Jan Erick Scholtz, president of Judo for Peace.
The initiative seeks to teach the practice and values of judo to disadvantaged young people and thousands have alreadt benefited from the project. Peace and Sport supports one of its projects in Cote d'Ivoire.
A prize for Sports Event of the Year went to Rally Ireland which, in November 2007, heightened cross-border co-operation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland through a joint organizing committee. The award was presented to John Naylor, president of Motor Sport Ireland and to Ronnie Trouton, president of the Association of Northern Ireland Car Clubs.
The Non-Governmental Organisation of the Year prize was presented to Serge Betsen's Les Enfants de Biemassy - a project designed initially to popularise rugby among the disadvantaged youth in Cameroon and which expanded to preach the values of social integration, personal fulfilment and educational access.
Former Olympic champions who attended the presentations gala included Sergey Bubka, Dick Fosbury, Wilson Kipketer and Bradley McGee.
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