Did you know that Lionel Messi, star of FC Barcelona and Argentina helps feed poor children in Mozambique – thousands of them (reportedly as many as 15.000) start their day with a healthy breakfast instead of suffering hunger and malnutrition.
This is the sort of example, helping his fellow brethren on the planet that made him a natural choice for the Peace and Sport, Champion for Peace for the year 2020.
Messi is a case where the idea of furthering good in the world did not come like a flash, an epiphany from the sky. He developed core values of respect for others, working hard and determination as a child and has always held true to them. He is an exemplar of fair play on the soccer field and brings the same spirit to everything he does. And in this year of Covid-19 where events are zoomed electronically around the world much of the excitement was centred on Monaco and specifically on the Casino Atrium next to the stunning Salle Garnier where the Peace and Sport gala customarily takes place – and an on-line version took precedence instead.
And it was from the atrium of the Casino de Monte-Carlo, that the polished Olympic medallist in taekwondo and Peace and Sport ambassador, Marlène Harnois, revealed to us the obvious delight (from a distance) of the Argentinian winner of Champion for Peace 2020. He was not seeking recognition per se but it was a thrill nevertheless. Messi is a competitor who always strives to win and always tries to respect everyone else too and be fair.
Prince Albert II revealed the name
Of course it was the Prince’s Palace that had initially burst on the screen as Prince Albert II opened the envelope to reveal the name of…Lionel Messi!
The Sovereign, an Olympian athlete himself has always recognized that the example of sports champions is of the utmost importance in influencing young people. Prince Albert in essence highlighted that: even more so in these uncertain times famous players who scale the heights of their profession and at the same time combine those achievements with being role models outside the game – these stars like Lionel Messi influence us enormously. They exemplify fair play on the pitch and their social contribution off it have a real impact in today’s society.
The Champions of Peace are one of the pillars of Peace and Sport echoed the mistress of ceremony Marlène Harnois, before introducing the president and founder of the NGO Peace and Sport. By launching its Peace and Sport X MyCoach application just before the health crisis, the NGO has been able to continue promoting peace through sport in the world despite health and social restrictions.
Joël Bouzou Founder and President emphasized the importance of the Champions of Peace for preaching the values of living together through sport. They play a fundamental advocacy role. They are role models, heroes and inspiration to young people around the world. They are committed and all want to serve peace – these were the essential points of his remarks.
And cheering support for Messi around the world were myriads of sports stars together with Champions for Peace Didier Drogba Vice President for Peace and Sport, Blaise Matuidi, Champion for Peace 2018 and Siya Kolisi, Champion for Peace 2019.