Mr Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yaï, Chairman of UNESCO’s Executive Board, Mr João Carlos de Souza-Gomes, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Brazil to UNESCO, and Mr Marcio Barbosa, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO, were also present at the designation ceremony along with high officials from the French Volleyball Federation.
In his address the Director-General explained that this title comes in recognition of Ms Silva’s “unfailing commitment to humanitarian projects through the promotion of sports, her tireless efforts to foster social interaction among youngsters and her valuable support for the Organisation’s ideals and objectives.”
Mr Matsuura recalled Ms Silva’s outstanding volleyball career, which was crowned with the highest titles, including that of Olympic Champion in the inaugural women’s beach volleyball tournament at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
The Director-General went on to make special mention of the activities that Ms Silva has undertaken off the court, notably through the ‘Instituto Jackie Silva’, which aims to promote sports and social interaction among vulnerable and disadvantaged youth in Rio de Janeiro. Mr Matsuura noted that today, the institute is active, through its volleyball units, in 49 different centres across the state of Rio de Janeiro, reaching around 6,000 children between the ages of 8 and 16. As well as sports training, the institute offers workshops, counselling and lectures on the prevention of HIV/AIDS, early pregnancy and drug abuse to youngsters at-risk.
Underscoring that “UNESCO is especially committed to promoting the values of physical education and sports with a view to building a better future for younger generations,” the Director-General outlined Jackie Silva’s future mission as UNESCO Champion for Sport: promoting inclusive education and sport for peace and development, supporting fair play and anti-doping campaigns, advocating the importance of physical education among youth, and fostering South-South cooperation in sports, particularly in Portuguese-speaking countries.
“In designating Ms Silva as a UNESCO Champion for Sport, our Organization pays tribute not only to a brilliant athlete, but also to a woman who over the years has constantly sought to use her talents and influence to improve the situation of others,” said Mr Matsuura.
Upon accepting the title, Ms Jackie Silva thanked the Director-General for this “great recognition” and expressed her joy and enthusiasm to start working with UNESCO. “This is like a dream to me, it is my second gold medal,” she stated.
In closure, Ambassador João Carlos de Souza-Gomes expressed Brazil’s satisfaction with this designation and paid tribute to Jackie Silva’s leadership role in the creation and popularization of beach volleyball as an Olympic sport. He added that Ms Silva was an inspiration for a whole generation as a defender of women’s rights in sports.
Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 154-2009 - Publication Date: 02-09-2009