Indian tennis player Rohan Bopanna and his Pakistani doubles partner Aisam ul Haq Qureshi have been awarded the 2010 Grand Prix of Peace & Sports at a glittering event held in Monaco.
The two players, who are also known as Indo-Pak Express, were given the award in the presence of Crown Prince of Monaco Thursday night for their role in promoting peaceful relations between India and Pakistan.
The two have been playing together as a doubles team on the ATP circuit in 2010 and to convey their message of peace, they have been sporting the slogan ‘Stop War, Start Tennis’
“Their commitment to promoting peace between the two countries and their conviction that peace was possible was shown amply during the year. In the US Open tournament they managed to bring together the ambassadors of India and Pakistan to support the same team,” says the citation of the award which was handed out in a ceremony with numerous stars from the world of sports.
Handing the award, Joel Bouzou, president and founder of Peace and Sport Foundation, requested the governments of India and Pakistan to support the project of Bopanna and Qureshi to organise a symbolic tennis match at the Wagah border checkpost. “The sport is ready for peace. Will the two governments rise to the occasion?” he asked.
The evening saw five other awards being handed out. These included the award for a peace project of an international sporting federation, which was shared by world football body FIFA and IFNA (International Federation of Netball Associations).
IFNA got the award for its programme ‘Goal’, which helps young women to become independent in India. FIFA got the award for it initiative Football for Hope, which reinforces programmes around the world on subjects as diverse as education, health, building peace and reconciliation.
The award for the Sporting Event of the Year went to ‘Rumble in Cartagena’ — an event of rugby in wheelchairs which was organised during the Summit for a World Free of Anti-personnel Mines.
The award for sports NGO for peace was given to the Peres Center, which has mounted about 10 projects favouring socio-economic cooperation and cross-border interactions between the Palestinian and Israeli people.
The award for Socially Responsible Company of the year was bagged by sports wear major Puma, which organised thousands of charitable football matches around the world to promote peace, donation of sporting equipment.
And the special prize of the Jury went to “Out of the Ashes”, a film based on the emergence of the Afghanistan cricket team, which originated in the refugees camps in Pakistan and went on to participate in the Cricket World Cup.
The Peace and Sports Awards were inaugurated in 2008 and are given by the eponymous organisation which in apolitical and neutral.
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