To celebrate UN Staff Day on 25 October, the UN Regional Information Centre (UNRIC) in Brussels organized for its staff and the UN family in Brussels an interactive talk with two top professional athletes in martial arts who shared their life story with staff and gave their view on the UN and the Sustainable Development Goals.  

Amal, of Moroccan descent, was born in Belgium. She started practicing Jiu-jitsu when she was 8 years and found that sport helped her cope with school and also gave her more confidence in herself. Now 20 and a world champion in her martial art, she wanted to be able to share with others the opportunities that sport gave her by devoting some of her spare time at an academy aimed at empowering young people through sport.  

When asked about the SDGs and which goal she found to be the most important, she answered that although they are all interlinked, to her Goal 4 on Quality Education was the most important, highlighting that it is the backbone to the success of all the other goals. 

Jaouad Achab came from Tanger (Morocco) in 2009 when he was 18 years old and learned three new languages (French, English and Flemish) in less than five years. He said the best day of his life was when he got Belgian citizenship, as it helped him and his family to get out of poverty and it opened all doors for him as a young athlete. Today 24 and an expert in Taekwondo, he participated in the Rio 2016 Olympics representing his adoptive country Belgium.  

Talking of what the UN and the TOGETHER campaign meant to him, Jaouad said he was “very happy that sport can bring people together. In my competitions, there are 75 countries fighting each other – different religions, different races – we challenge each other, but in the end, we are friends.” 

In addition to striving to win competitions, both athletes cited their passion for sport as a means to a better world. 

To end off the session, the two athletes gave a demonstration of Jiu-jitsu with Amal proving that “even the weakest can win” as she took Jaouad to the floor with ease during her demonstration. This was definitely a “humbling and human experience,” as Deputy Director Caroline Petit said, and makes us all proud to be UN Staff.

 From: UNRIC Brussels