By Tom Lloyd, Bujumbura, Burundi, 10 August 2017: Peace and Sport, the politically-neutral organisation dedicated to the development of peace through sport, is finalising preparation for the 2017 Friendship Games Burundi which begins in Bujumbura, Burundi tomorrow, August 11, in cooperation with the National Olympic Committee of Burundi and 9 International Federations.
The event, which brings together 200 children from Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, will see a host of international federations and diplomats and local authority representatives join Peace and Sport’s Champions for Peace in the Great African Lakes region to promote better inter-cultural dialogue and to endorse the power of sport for change.
Olympian Taekwondo Pascal Gentil is one such Champion for Peace who will attend the Games, representing the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Bid Committee.
Gentil, a double Olympic medallist and triple world champion, will share the Olympic values of togetherness, friendship and respect and will lead the martial arts competitions and also run workshops for children throughout the two day event.
Elsewhere, French Athletics Paralympian Jean-Baptiste Alaize, fresh from his bronze medal winning performance at the London 2017 IAAF Para World Championships, will revisit the country of his birth and speak of his experiences as a child in war torn Burundi and the injuries he sustained there which propelled him towards his Paralympic career.
On top of this, Jean-François Tordo, former Captain of the French National Rugby Team, will offer his technical expertise through our Sport Simple initiative, using several handmade sport equipment to train children. Sport Simple is an initiative that sees sporting practice areas, equipment and rules adapted to resources, environment and aims to promote a ‘sport for all’ approach.
Alongside the Champions for Peace, a host of International Federations are also involved in the Games, including:
• International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)
• International Basketball Federation (FIBA)
• International Boxing Association (AIBA)
• International Federation of Volleyball (FIVB)
• International Table Soccer Federation (ITSF)
• International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF)
• World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC)
• World Karate Federation (WKF)
• World Taekwondo (WT)
Peace and Sport currently helps to support six sports centres within the African Great Lakes region, all of which use sport to promote social inclusion, education, and inter-ethnic dialogue. The Games take place annually and promote the good work sport is doing within the area.
Olympian Taekwondo and Paris 2024 ambassador, Pascal Gentil, said:
“It is amazing to come here and see so many children enjoying sport and using it as a tool for dialogue and sharing. I cannot wait to get started tomorrow and see so many happy faces.
“I have been privileged to have achieved much in my sporting career and I feel it is my duty to give something back to the world. That is why it is important for me to be involved in events like this and act as a Peace and Sport Champion for Peace around the world.
“Paris 2024 shares these values of togetherness, friendship and unity with Peace and Sport and it is great to be here on behalf of the team. We hope to infuse these themes throughout the Games and use sport to change the world for the better.”
Peace and Sport President and founder, Joel Bouzou, added:
“It is great to see such successful athletes join us for the Friendship Games this year, and I am excited to see them engage and inspire the children of these three African nations. Our Champions for Peace play an integral role in spreading our message of peace around the world and on the eve of the
Games I want to thank them for their involvement.
“I would also like to thank the International Federations who are playing an integral role in providing the technical expertise and equipment that will make these Games possible.
By adapting sports rules and equipment and demonstrating how old tires, foam and rope can make a boxing ring, we want to show that sport can be made simple, and that you can participate and compete wherever you are in the world. I am excited for the Games to start tomorrow and to see the real power sport has to drive change.”