Speeches, Remarks & Statements
First International GLOBAL Conference
Ambassador Paul D. Wohlers Remarks
Holiday Inn, Thursday, October 18, 2012 – 11:00 a.m.
Good morning, President Ivanov, Mr. Anastasovski, Mr. Gjorgioski, honored guests, and friends. It is an honor to be here today to join you in celebrating the successful completion of this wonderful project. Over the past year GLOBAL has brought together more than 2,000 children from around Macedonia to play football, develop their creativity and ingenuity through art projects, and to visit different cultural and religious sites across this country.
I had the honor to participate in one of these events earlier this summer in Tetovo. It was great to see children from all different ethnicities, religions, and cultural backgrounds - who might otherwise not have even met - simply enjoying themselves and playing football together. It was great to see so many girls and young women playing, as well, and a reminder to us all that they are as passionate about sport as any young man. In Tetovo, President Ivanov and I, with the kids and their coaches, also had the opportunity to visit the remarkable Painted Mosque. What a cultural treasure that is for all the people of this country. The U.S. Embassy is proud to be supporting the restoration of the beautifully painted outer walls through the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, and I hope that citizens from around this country and beyond will appreciate its unique beauty and heritage for many generations to come.
I want to congratulate GLOBAL’s staff and volunteers for the vision, hard work, and energy it took to make this project a true success.
This conference marks the culmination of a year’s worth of activities that started in small communities and grew to involve more students, their teachers, and families. This project truly is an inspiration, and it is my hope that this infectious enthusiasm for sports and friendship will continue long after this program ends, and that it will continue to grow and expand through villages, towns, and cities across Macedonia.
I would like to especially thank President Ivanov for his ceaseless support for this project, and so many others like it, that bring young people from across Macedonia together, regardless of their ethnic, religious, social, or cultural backgrounds, to develop a deeper and richer sense of themselves and others.
Mr. President, you have inspired many young men and women across this country, and I applaud your commitment and efforts on their behalf. I would also like to acknowledge the support of the Mayors of Vrapchishte, Prilep, Shuto Orizari, Tetovo, Staro Nagorichane, and Centar – Skopje. Together, your support for Global, and more importantly, for the children who have attended the activities, has sent an important message to all Macedonians --that there are so many more things that unite us than divide us, and that understanding and tolerance can come from something as simple as sports.
For children of all ages, sports are among the most effective and fun ways to build bridges of shared respect and tolerance.
At the end of a game, win or lose, the player knows that he or she belongs to a team and that the team needs all its members to play their best. The players also learn about respect and trust; for themselves as they develop their skills, and then for others as they learn how to listen to a coach, how to work as a team, and the importance of good sportsmanship. These are lessons they can use throughout their lives – the need to trust and respect others, share, give it your best, play fair, and never give up, even if you lose a game.
The U.S. Embassy is proud to have been a part of this project, and we look forward to working with you all in the future.