Egyptian athletes vow to promote sustainable development & peace

Jun 4, 2016

Shot of the friendly football game that took place between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations at Gezira Youth Centre. Photo by UNIC Egypt.

A group of 22 top Egyptian athletes today pledged to promote world peace and advance the new and universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During a sport event organized by the United Nations in Egypt, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, participating athletes issued a declaration vowing to advocate for the goals and principles of the UN Charter and to “promote friendly relations and solidarity between world population groups…within the framework of intercultural dialogue and the alliance of civilizations.”

In a declaration read out at the ceremony by the World Dean of Football Players Ahmed Hassan, the athletes also vowed to “pursue an international order based on justice, equality in sovereignty, mutual respect, and human dignity for all.”

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

In his opening remarks, Acting UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt, Al-Mostafa Benlamlih, said that because “due to its great popularity, and it’s power to promote positive values, inspire and unite people sport has a significant role to play in achieving the 17 universal SDGs, 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 in Egypt, Ambassador Mohamed Kazem of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized that sports are not only a tool for entertainment, recreation and fair competition among individuals and peoples, “they are also a major linchpin in the health and prevention system, and are among elements of sustainable development.“

Among the many messages recited by athletes during the event, the famous footballer Ahmed Hassan tackled the first SDG of ending poverty in all its forms everywhere, while Tamer Abdel Hamid – another football star – spoke about education as a key stone for development. Other renowned football players dealt with the goals of health, decent employment, supporting refugees and migrants and other SDGs.

Speaking about the goal of promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, world squash player Nouran Gohar said it is inconceivable to aim for development in the absence of real peace, genuine justice as well as effective, transparent and accountable institutions at all levels. “Sport is one of the important tools in promoting national unity and solidarity among different regions and groups of the population,” she said.

The other prominent Squash player Ali 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 Adviser of the Youth and Sport Ministry Emad El Banani expressed hope that such sport events and activities promoting causes of peace and development would be sustained and perpetuated, commending the UN for partnering with Egyptian athletes to champion these lofty goals.

The event’s programme kicked off with a friendly game of Squash between two of the top Egyptian players. It also featured two friendly football games, one between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs team and its counterpart from the UN family in Egypt, and the second pitted two teams of some of Egypt’s best veteran footballers against each other. There was also a martial arts performance by children organized by UNICEF.

The event was organized at the El Gezira Youth Center, under the patronage of their Excellencies Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry and Minister of  Youth and Sport Khaled Abdel Aziz.