Cambodia’s history is one of violent struggle and genocide. The brutal stories of this small country in Southeast Asia was captured in the 1984 film The Killing Fields, a powerful movie that won three Academy Awards in depicting the bloody reign of the communist Khmer Rouge and their role in executing approximately 2.1 million people from 1970 to 1975.
While Cambodia tries to mend the wounds caused by this dark period, individuals are taking it upon themselves to help in the healing process. Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi is doing his part with a foundation he started called Stop War Start Tennis. Qureshi is partnering with another foundation called Killing Fields to Tennis Courts and has already sent five tennis wheelchairs to Cambodia to encourage disabled people to participate in tennis.
The Killing Fields to Tennis Courts foundation aims to put tennis courts in areas that were once killing fields, clearing the land of mines and providing tennis-specific wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs for amputees, along with training and equipment.
Qureshi has been busy this year lending his support to other countries including Sri Lanka, Iraq and Pakistan and supporting people with mobility disabilities by donating wheelchairs and reinforcing the benefits of tennis as both physical and mental therapy.
“What they (Killing Fields to Tennis Courts) are doing in Cambodia for disabled youth and adult tennis is really inspiring,” Qureshi told ATP, the Association of Tennis Professionals. “I sincerely appreciate the ATP for all their support for Stop War Start Tennis.”
Qureshi has won 10 ATP World Tour doubles crowns since turning pro in 1998. Originally from Lahore, Pakistan, Qureshi has used tennis as a vehicle for humanitarian causes and is now a member of the “Champions for Peace” club, a group of 54 athletes committed to serving peace in the world through sport.
In December Qureshi will travel to Cambodia to lead a weekend wheelchair clinic and to give the keynote address at a fundraiser.