Valerie Amant for Peace-Support.org
Lotto spokesmen Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, Indian and Pakistani respectively, have decided to join forces as a doubles team at Wimbledon to help promote peace.
The two players, along with Peace and Sport, the Monaco-based and neutral international organization that works towards bringing together divided communities worldwide by encouraging dialogue and reconciliation through sport, have decided to team up at this prestigious sporting event, in order to help maintain and promote peace in their neighbouring countries.
Together with their technical supplier, Lotto Sport Italia, Bopanna and Qureshi have decided to promote this initiative by designing specially made t-shirts and sweatshirts with the high impact slogan “Stop War, Start Tennis”. The t-shirt will be worn during training sessions, whilst the sweatshirt will be used when entering the court before play.
Rohan, currently ranked 54th doubles player in the world, and Aisam, currently ranked 46th, have been friends for over ten years and have teamed up successfully for the last three years. Their respective countries have lived in a situation of unease and tension in the region of Kashmir since it won its independence from the British Empire in 1947. Peace and Sport would like to emphasise how much sport unites, as highlighted by the two players’ partnership.
The two tennis stars took the initiative to promote peace through sport after having noticed that communities from both countries forget hostility when they support them in international competitions. Indeed, during the first ATP tournament in Mumbai in 2007, Pakistani flags were waved inside the stadium during the final.
With the message “Stop War! Start Tennis!” Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi remind us that sport is a universal language that facilitates dialogue, going beyond political, racial, religious, ethnical and social differences.
Joël Bouzou, President and Founder of Peace and Sport, said: « Rohan and Aisam are big stars in their respective countries. Their story of friendship through sport is a real inspiration for youngsters. By transmitting a message of peace, they hope to change the mentalities and attitudes in India and Pakistan as well as other areas of the world destabilized by conflict. We are extremely proud to support this message that will benefit from the extensive publicity that Wimbledon attracts.
Alberto Fraticelli Marketing & Communications Director, from Lotto Sport Italia adds : « It is with great pleasure and good will that we decided to develop this initiative, in fact we already support “FreeFromLaces”, the movement that through blogs, forums, social networks, music and video, collects and proposes to the entire web community content and ideas that invite the user to reflect and ponder on “laces” that limit our daily routine: those personal, mental, virtual, social, cultural and physical ties that often seem impossible to untie. Through their initiative and personal backgrounds, Aisam et Rohan are perfect incarnations of this philosophy; thanks to sport we can rise above the hate and prejudice that condemns mankind to perpetual conflict, and we are extremely proud to have international representation of our brand, through players like Rohan and Aisam.”