Lausanne, 27th November 2009 - The International Table Tennis Federation was awarded the best peace project from an International Sports Federation on the occasion of the annual forum of the the non government organisation Peace and Sport.
The awards ceremony was held in Monaco, in the Salle Empire of the H๔tel de Paris on the evening of Thursday 26th November. After the gala dinner, ITTF Vice President Mr. Thomas WEIKERT received the award from HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco.
Peace and Sport is an non government organisation based in Monaco under the patronage of HRH Prince Albert II of Monaco. Its mission is to promote sustainable peace by raising awareness about and educating youth about peace using the structuring values of sport.
Quotes from the ITTF Key Persons
ITTF President Adham SHARARA said: "I am extremely pleased that the ITTF was recognized by the Peace and Sport organization by being awarded this very prestigious award for 2009. We cannot say that the ITTF 'won' the award, because all International Sports Federations strive for peace through sport. But we can be proud that our tireless work and efforts are being observed and appreciated by the international community.
It is an honour for the ITTF to receive such an award from the hands of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco.
I personally want to thank Mr. Jo๋l BOUZOU, the President of Peace and Sport, for pushing the peace message through sport for a better world. I also want to thank our Development Department, under the professional leadership of its Executive Director, Glenn TEPPER, and his Development Manager, Leandro OLVECH, and all their field workers for their excellent work and bringing attention to the ITTF's efforts in development. It is a positive sign that our new Vice President of Development, Melecio RIVERA, has brought us good tidings and recognition for our efforts. It is also a very positive sign that our Vice President, Thomas WEIKERT, was the recipient of the award on behalf of the ITTF; we will now send him to all award ceremonies. Bravo ITTF, bravo ITTF Development Department! This is a jewel of a reward for all of us."
ITTF Vice President Mr. Thomas WEIKERT said on the podium: "The ITTF is very proud of this award, we are currently running programmes in Iraq, Jordan and Colombia. This award will keep us working and improving. We would like to thank Peace and Sport and we hope to continue working with you."
Executive Director of Development Programs Mr. Glenn TEPPER said: "This is truly great news and the culmination of many years work! In 1999 a visionary leader, ITTF President Adham SHARARA, initiated the ITTF Development Program with a pilot project in Oceania. >From these humble beginnings, today the ITTF Development Program has five full-time staff, 50 part-time staff, an annual budget of over one million US dollars, and approximately 100 courses per year worldwide and approximately 30 equipment packages provided worldwide annually.
That growth and this award have been the result of a large number of development staff, continental development officers, ITTF staff, ITTF Executive Committee members, continental presidents and the real foot soldiers, the coaches, the Umpires and Rules Committee course conductors, and varied specialist course conductors that have taken table tennis to the world. To all of you, I wish we all share this moment, allow ourselves some time to reflect on a job well done, before moving ahead with renewed and increased motivation, knowing that the long hours and sacrifices made do make a difference, and are recognised."
ITTF Executive Director of Operations and Olympic Games Mr. Jordi SERRA said: "Big, big congratulations for this great award! I think this is also a recognition of Adham SHARARA's vision when he decided to start with the Development Plan in 1999 and to make the ITTF development as one of the priorities. A recognition as well of course to the good work of Glenn TEPPER and Leandro OLVECH on Development.
Coordinator of Development Programmes Mr. Leandro OLVECH said: "This is, of course, a motivation for us to continue working in the social field using the table tennis as a tool. The Development Program is bringing opportunities to all of our 207 member associations that hopefully will be more next year. We want to be present worldwide, and assist all our members from Niue in Oceania with 1,500 inhabitants to Anguilla in the Caribbean with 15,000 that will join us next year.
We were present in Monaco with Thomas WEIKERT but anyway Adham SHARARA and Glenn TEPPER should have been with us as they deserve the credit as visionaries and 'parents' of the Development Program; this is dedicated to them."
The Nominations for the Best Peace Project Award were:
- The International Cricket Council (ICC) for its "Catch the Spirit" project which promotes peace and reconciliation in areas where inter-community tension runs high in the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka).
- The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) for its development programmes which use the values of table tennis as an instrument of integration and social stability in the disadvantaged urban areas in Afghanistan, Yemen, Jordan and Colombia.
- The International Powerboating Union (UIM) for its "Race for Peace" initiative aimed at bringing communities together in Northern Ireland, Southern Ireland and the United Kingdom.
An Illustrious Jury
- Mr. Jo๋l BOUZOU, President and Founder of Peace and Sport, World Champion in Modern Pentathlon and Olympic medallist.
- Mr. Wilfried LEMKE, United Nations Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace
- Mr. Wilson KIPKETER, three times World Champion in track and field
- Mr. Pernilla WIBERG, Ski Olympic champion and IOC member
- Ms. H.E. Prof. Hellen M. P. SAMBILI, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Kenya
- Mr. Johann Olav KOSS, President, Right To Play, Speed skating Olympic champion
- Mr. Matvey SHPARO,Arctic explorer, Russia
- Mr. Erik MONJALOUS, Sales & Marketing Director, Agence France-Press
The ITTF Development Programme has a strong humanitarian focus in addition to the 100 courses conducted worldwide annually. These are among others:
- the Tsunami Rebuilding Project - through fundraising and tapping into the generosity of the table tennis community included re-building projects, courses, training camps and equipment packages for affected countries
- Goodwill Fund provides special projects for disadvantaged groups and has included projects in Uganda, Congo DR, Iraq, Kenya, Kosova, Peru, Haiti and Cuba and has mine education in Balkans outside of the normal national federation courses.
- UNHCR Project in Yemen Refugee Camps
- Women's Project in Rural Egypt-changing the perception of women in society through table tennis.
Tradition in Peace Missions
The ITTF has a long history of using table tennis as a vehicle for social change and facilitating sustainable peace. Starting with the 1971 Ping Pong Diplomacy, table tennis also brought together the two Korea's for the 1991 World Championships.
The ITTF was the first International Sports Federation to officially recognise the united South Africa Table Tennis Board, and played an active role in assisting their re-entry to the World Sporting Stage.
In 2004, the ITTF was the first International Sports Federation to go back into Afghanistan post-war in a joint project with the IOC. Not only were different ethnic groups working together for the first time in this project, but also women joined the men for the first time in many years.