Berlin, 9 April 2019 - In a tribute to the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and on the occasion of the International Day on Sport for Development and Peace, Save the Dream, in partnership with the International Olympic Truce Center (IOTC) held an international youth forum ‘When Sport Breaks Down Walls’ with the support of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and Qatar Airways, official airline of the event.
The forum was hosted at Der Diwan, Arab Culture House in Berlin under the patronage of Sheikh Saoud Abdulrahman al-Thani, ambassador of the State of Qatar in Germany who opened the event jointly with Mohamed Hanzab, ICSS Chairman and Founder of Save the Dream and a message from FIFA Secretary-General Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura.
The event was attended, among the others, by Wilfried Lemke, former United Nations secretary-general’s special adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Tegla Loroupe, marathon champion, UN and Save the Dream Sport Ambassador, captain of the Refugee Olympic Team at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Constantinos Filis, Director-General of the International Olympic Truce Center (IOTC), Kjetil Siem, General Secretary of the FIFA Foundation, Honey Thaljieh, Corporate Communications Manager, FIFA, Save the Dream Ambassador, and Patrick Hausding, German diver, Olympic medallist.
The forum highlighted several examples of sport diplomacy, some of which were shared by the same persons involved, such as Hans Grodotzki, East German long-distance runner who competed for the United Team of Germany in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.
Over 80 youth leaders, from across the globe, gathered to support the positive message of unity within society while focusing on the power of sport to inspire and empower people across nations, regardless of faith and socio-economic status.
Delivering the welcome message, Sheikh Saoud Abdulrahman al-Thani, ambassador of the State of Qatar in Germany said: “There have been many moments, in the history, when the universal language of sport has spoken to the world, and when sport has broken walls among nations and in the minds of people. I wish to congratulate Save the Dream and its partners, particularly the International Olympic Truce Center, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and Qatar Airways, for taking the initiative of this forum and for creating an opportunity for debate, exchange and inspiration on how to break down walls through peaceful means such as sport.”
Mohamed Hanzab, ICSS Chairman and Founder of Save the Dream said: “Sport breaks down all walls starting with those built in the minds of some people. Today, we look to you as ‘Agents of Change’ – young leaders who can promote, through sport, a new way of thinking, one grounded in the values of integrity, respect and inclusion. We are happy to be a part of this movement towards making a social change with sport driving towards a better future”
During his intervention, Constantinos Filis, Director General of the International Olympic Truce Center (IOTC) said: “We believe in the power of the young generation. As we believe in the power of sport to change our perception of the other and learn to respect diversity. Our strong co-operation with Save the Dream aims at bringing young leaders from differed backgrounds together and teach them how to disseminate the message of peace in their respective communities.”
Speaking of the role of sport for peace talks, Wilfried Lemke, former United Nations secretary-general’s special adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, said: “We should not work with violence, hate, walls and sanctions. We must respect each other, our customs and our history. We should have friendship all over the world.”
Fatma Samoura, secretary-general of FIFA, pointed: “Fighting for equality and promoting diversity is a moral choice and a commitment that we must make together as a society, and sport, not least football, is a unifier we must use to breakdown social barriers and heal divisions.”
Save the Dream Sport Ambassadors Tegla Loroupe, marathon champion, captain of the Refugee Olympic Team at the 2016 Summer Olympics, and Honey Thaljieh, Corporate Communications Manager, FIFA, respectively said: “Highlighting the power of sport for unity and peace, we organised, on the eve of the forum, a peace walk from Brandenburg Gate to Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War. We will keep walking and running for all those affected by walls and promote the use of sport to build bridges among individuals and nations.”
“If we believe in something, we can make it happen. If we care, we can make a big difference. Sports gives us self-esteem, self-confidence. I wanted a story about the celebration of life and I find it in football”
Massimiliano Montanari, Executive Director at Save the Dream concluded, “Since the Wall of Berlin came down in 1989, so many new walls have been built all around the world. In tribute to the 30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, we celebrate today, 6th of April, the International Day on Sport for Development and Peace, trusting sport will break down the next wall. Sportpersons are architects of peace who do not build walls but bridges.“
The Youth Forum pledged its support to the #WhiteCard campaign promoted by the Monaco-based foundation “Sport and Peace” and launched a long-term global advocacy initiative to raise awareness on the role of sport to break down the walls which still exist despite the demolition of the Berlin Wall in 1989.