Subject: Thai sports balls to Timor

Thai Press Reports

May 7, 2003


BODY: Thailand will donate 1,200 sports balls to help the world's youngest country -Democratic Republic of Timor -Leste - kick off its first year of independence on May 20.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will hand over the sports balls to UNDP Representative Robert England at Government House in Bangkok on May 7. The balls will then immediately be flown by UNDP to Timor-Leste for distribution throughout the country.

Football games will constitute the main national events to commemorate Timor Leste's first anniversary as a new nation. The sports gift from Thailand includes 500 footballs, 250 basketballs, 250 volleyballs and 200 takraw balls - for a traditional Thai sport played with rattan balls. The Government will encourage the Thai peace-keeping troops currently posted in Timor -Leste to join in the sporting events planned for the celebration. UNDP Resident Representative Robert England said this innovative gift is a symbol of Thailand's wish to reach out to other countries, reinforcing peace and reconciliation.

The exchange of the sports balls was fostered by Adolf Ogi, Special Adviser to the Secretary - General of the UN on Sport for Development and Peace. He met last month in Bangkok with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and discussed the possibility of Thailand providing assistance to the development of sport activities in Timor -Leste in support of reconstruction and reconciliation.

Mr. Ogi said later that the contribution to the normalization of East Timor through sports and play will help the young people of East Timor to set up sports clubs and train for international competitions at which they will be able to represent their country and measure themselves against others.

The balls were donated by several private companies, both Thai and foreign.

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