Pakistani tennis star Aisam Qureshi kicked off his Stop War Start Tennis Tour (www.stopwarstarttennis.org) in Yangon, Myanmarthis off-season as chief guest at the First Annual Myanmar International Tennis Project. Qureshi participated in a pro-am fundraising dinner and hosted a massive Kid’s Day with fifteen schools sending a total of 1,000 kids aged 6-10 from Yangon public and private schools for an introduction to mini-tennis.
During this year’s ATP World Tour events at Bercy in Paris and the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London, Qureshi asked Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Kei Nishikori and Shingo Kuneida (London Paralympics Men’s Gold Medalist Singles Champion) for autograph match shirts to be auctioned inMyanmar. All in the five shirts raised a total of $5,460 for the Tennis Federation of Myanmar orphans to tennis program with the proceeds going to the TFM’s junior programs.
Qureshi was the keynote speaker for the Pro-Am fundraising dinner and the subject of his speech was how tennis teaches people to understand and respect others right to have different religious and political views as well as ethnic backgrounds.
Recounting some of the lessons from his newly published e-book, STOP WAR START TENNIS: LESSONS OF LIFE AND UNDERSTANDING FROM A PAKISTANI TENNIS PLAYER (available here: http://www.amazon.com/Tennis-Lessons-Understanding-Pakistani-ebook/dp/B009XE3LLO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356706088&sr=8-1&keywords=stop+war+start+tennis) Qureshi spoke about the values of tennis.
“Through tennis, I have experienced that sport can bring tolerance, counter discrimination and eradicate prejudices,” said Qureshi. “Tennis gives us the tools for a better life.”
In addition, Qureshi is a UNDP Ambassador and he finished his talk with a lesson of counting blessings.
“We live in a very cruel world,” Qureshi concluded his speech. “A world where natural disasters, disease, and war are literally on our doorstep every day. We live in a world where bad things happen to good people. I used to get caught up in my own world of rankings and results. A few years ago, I began visiting areas that have been affected by war. I have had to travel to regions that have been pounded by earthquakes and ravaged by flood. Entire communities who have had their livelihoods and homes wiped out in one night. Children who have been orphaned by sectarian violence. Met young kids who have lost limbs and loved ones due to sectarian violence. Through the ATP World Tour STARS program I have visited children hospitals where sick little ones who are most certainly going to die are hooked up to tubes and monitors. Their parents overcome with emotion and tears in their eyes. Or village elders who praise Allah when you arrive in a cargo helicopter with fresh water and the promise shelter? Witnessing these things puts life into perspective.”