One of the most exciting weeks of sport in the Laureus calendar has come to an end for another year, and those present were honoured with an appearance from a truly inspiring figure.
The 2012 edition of the Fraternity Cup, which is held in the French capital of Paris, brought children from around the world together to play football and to learn about each other and their home countries.
Patroned by Laureus Academy Member Marcel Desailly, this year’s Cup was once again a great success, offering the chance to almost 100 children from countries as distant as Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, France, India, Israel, Madagascar, Morocco, Nepal, Palestine, Romania and Rwanda to come together to learn about each other and to fight against discrimination.
Though football was very much at the heart of the action this week, the youngsters also enjoyed cultural and artistic workshops where they learnt first-hand about what life is like in another country from their fellow football-lovers.
After all their efforts and hard work the kids were treated to a party full of traditional song and dances from their home lands. Each participant was also awarded a medal to commemorate their time in Paris.
But the closing of the Fraternity Cup was particularly special for the presence of Stephane Hessel. Hessel, who fought in the French Resistance and then survived the concentration camps of the second world war, was an editor of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He was celebrating his 95th birthday at the event and shared discussions with the youngsters who enjoyed the rare opportunity to learn from his incredible experiences.
Hessel said: "Being here tonight with all this youth is for me a wonderful birthday gift. These children come from all across the globe. They are all different from each other, and yet they are connected through personal friendship. Tonight, I witnessed a profound fellowship between all these children. This Fraternity Cup is a very beautiful sign for the future of humanity".
By helping young people learn about each other to tackle discrimination the Fraternity Cup encapsulates so much of what Laureus believes in about sport. And though these kids will be travelling back home now, they will be taking what they have learnt back to many Laureus-supported projects and helping pass on what they have learnt to their communities and friends.