Sunday night Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic defeated all-time great Roger Federer in an intense four set match to take the 2015 US Open Men’s Tennis championship. But what most people might not know is that just last month Djokovic was appointed as the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) most recent Goodwill Ambassador after serving as the agency’s Serbia Ambassador and promoting children’s rights through his own private foundation.
Having experienced extreme turmoil throughout much of his early life, Djokovic has been able to overcome adversity with sport and is admirably using his prominent role to give back to children around the world. In a 2012 segment on 60 Minutes, Djokovic detailed his experience as a 12 year old boy spending nights huddled in his grandfather’s basement in Belgrade through the 1999 NATO bombing campaign of Kosovo during the tumultuous breakup of Yugoslavia. For Djokovic, the tennis court served as a safe haven, saying that because he was unable to go to school he channeled all of his energy toward tennis.
At PeacePlayers International, we often see the toll of conflict disproportionately fall on those least able to bear it – children. That is why PPI predominantly engages at-risk youth, utilizing the power of sport to provide more than 4,000 children a year with a constructive framework to guide their growth into successful adults.
To learn more about PPI’s youth sports programs, click here: http://www.peaceplayersintl.org/our-programs
To learn more about Novak Djokovic’s early child development work, click here: http://novakdjokovicfoundation.org/