Leander Paes takes part in Nick Kyrgios' #NoMessChallenge
Leander Paes takes part in Nick Kyrgios' Old El Paso #MessFree Challenge Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: American Tex-Mex-style food producer Old El Paso has teamed up with Indian tennis star Leander Paes to support a unique challenge that leverages the power of social influence for good.

The 18-time Grand Slam doubles champion, who was scheduled to use the 2020 season as his final year on the ATP Men’s Tour, has put the Old El Paso Mess-Free Tortillas to the ultimate test in his #MessFreeChallenge video that he unveiled on his Instagram and Twitter accounts to his nearly 1.3 million followers.

To mark the partnership, Paes and Old El Paso Middle East donated 5,000 meal products to help feed disadvantaged people in the UAE.

Launched by Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios and Old El Paso in September in support of the NK Foundation, the Old El Paso #MessFreeChallenge has received the support of several other tennis stars, elite athletes and Olympians in Australia and beyond. Australia’s Grand Slam champions Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur were among the first to accept the challenge and Kyrgios then personally requested his good friend and British tennis player Andy Murray to take the cause ‘global’ on the eve of the just-concluded French Open.

At the launch of the challenge in early September, Kyrgios playing tennis — including an incredible between-the-legs shot — all while leaving the court spotless with his Old El Paso tortilla pocket in hand.

Paes brought in his own personal touch to the challenge with some no-look, no-spills volleys with a frying pan.

The challenge was subsequently passed on to world No. 5 Elina Svitolina, her partner Gael Monfils, former women’s world No. 1 Garbine Muguruza, world No. 10 Belinda Bencic, among others.

Paes’s #MessFreeChallenge nomination came from Muguruza, with the two-time Grand Slam champion and a friend of Paes attempting a mess-free abdominal crunch routine with the pockets. Paes has now set the bar higher with his different take on the challenge before passing it on to Latin American tennis star Monica Puig, the current women’s Olympic gold medallist.

“I’m thrilled to have joined this amazing movement with a well-loved brand like Old El Paso, whose Mexican meals I always enjoyed back when I lived in America and even on tour — who doesn’t love a Taco Tuesday or Fajita Friday night? It’s been great fun being able to participate in the Old El Paso #MessFreeChallenge and being part of something my fellow tennis players and other athletes have participated in while trying to keep it engaging and original,” Paes said.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the Latin touch that Monica brings and to continue the challenge for our tennis family but above all, it’s important to be a force for good and give back together like we are with Old El Paso through various food charities around the globe to help families in need during such moments of global uncertainty.”

Ali Shaikh, Commercial Director, Middle East and Africa of General Mills, said: “We are honoured that a sporting icon like Leander Paes accepted the Old El Paso #MessFreeChallenge to take it global. He is a true role model with an incredible platform to amplify the challenge and we are grateful to him endorsing his support to a hugely important cause. This campaign is a real example of international sports stars coming together to be a force for good.”

The Old El Paso #MessFreeChallenge is circling the world with some of the most socially influential tennis stars, while addressing food insecurity by giving back over 55,000 Mexican meal products/kits to families in need across Europe, Australia and now the Middle East.

For its kick-off in Australia, Old El Paso partnered with the Nick Kyrgios Foundation to donate 10,000 Meal Kits via Foodbank Australia, with one additional meal kit donated for every share of the Nick Kyrgios’ challenge video on Instagram Stories up to another 10,000 meal kits.

This was followed up in the UK with a pledge of 20,000 Old El Paso Mexican Meal Kits with Andy Murray to FareShare UK and then followed with another 15,000 Mexican meal products across Europe jointly with Monfils, Muguruza and Bencic with local food banks in France, Spain and Switzerland, respectively.