With visits to Kabul, Afghanistan and Colombo, Sri Lanka, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi continues to spread his message of peace through tennis.
Recently, Qureshi was invited as a keynote speaker by the United Nations of Crime and Drug Prevention to Kabul for an annual conference labelled the Kabul Regional Event: The impact of illicit drugs on society in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. Qureshi was asked to speak about his message of peace through sport and the benefits of learning to play tennis in ‘at-risk’ zones.
“It was my first visit to Afghanistan,” says Qureshi. “I was amazed at all the activity but as you move around the city you quickly notice just how much needs to be done. The war in Afghanistan has created a lot of displaced people, orphans and street crime. I know that the idea of starting tennis in war zones sounds crazy, but just maybe our sport can help improve and save lives.”
In addition to speaking at the UNOCD Conference, Qureshi visited with the Afghanistan Tennis Association to discuss implementing a wheelchair tennis program for the nation’s many amputees.
Moving from one war zone to another, Qureshi arrived in Sri Lanka, a country that has suffered from civil war. Qureshi visited with the Sri Lanka Wheelchair Tennis Association in Colombo and joined the players in a practice. The players are soldiers who became amputees during the decades old conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Rebels.
“I don’t believe that sports and politics should get mixed up,” says Qureshi. “I try to stay out of that, but what I do believe is that we can erase negative stereotypes and reduce racial discrimination by playing sports together. I have to say that I was very impressed with what Sri Lanka has done with their amputees through wheelchair tennis. In addition, the amputees also serve as referees and linesmen for ITF events.”
Afterwards there was a question and answer session regarding Stop War Start Tennis: Lessons From The Tennis Tour.
Through his foundation which recently received an ATP Aces For Charity Grant, Qureshi pledged 10 tennis wheelchairs to the Sri Lanka Tennis Association. Qureshi’s mission is to raise funds to grant 100 tennis adapted wheelchairs to projects around the world this year.