|International Cricket Council CEO Malcolm Speed (back row, centre) with young Jamaican cricketers in front of the ‘Bashy Bus’ mobile HIV/AIDS awareness vehicle.|
By David Singh
KINGSTON, Jamaica, 15 March 2007 – Seven weeks of competition in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 began on Tuesday with a victory by the West Indies over Pakistan in front of a record crowd of over 16,000 at Jamaica’s Sabina Park.
Another cricket match played yesterday in Spanish Town probably will not get the coverage of all the other games, but it was an important one. Here in Jamaica’s St. Catherine’s Parish, a team known as ‘Safe Sex and Abstinence’, the defending champions, took on ‘Sex and Promiscuity’, the challengers.
The match was part of a presentation by the ‘Bashy Bus Krew’ – a mobile service aimed at disseminating information on AIDS and encouraging responsible sexual decision-making among young people throughout Jamaica. HIV prevention was stressed throughout.
Not surprisingly, Safe Sex and Abstinence prevailed.
Fighting AIDS stigma
Among the spectators on hand were the Chief Executive Officer of the International Cricket Council (ICC), Malcolm Speed, and ICC Manager of Member Services and Corporate Affairs Jon Long. Mr. Speed announced that professional cricketers and other eminent personalities from the Caribbean will make a series of visits to HIV/AIDS programmes during the seven-week ICC Cricket World Cup.
“Hopefully these visits can help alleviate discrimination and stigma,” he said, noting that 30 per cent of people living with HIV are from the world’s cricket-playing countries.
|© AP Photo/Leighton|
|Accompanied by a young boy wearing an AIDS campaign t-shirt, Sri Lanka’s cricket team waves during the opening ceremony of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 at Trelawny Stadium in Jamaica on 11 March.|
Mr. Speed’s statement followed on last week’s declaration of a new partnership between the ICC, UNICEF, UNAIDS and the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership in support of the Unite for Children. Unite against AIDS global campaign.
‘The right to know’
Throughout the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, the partnership will remind cricket fans about the importance of protecting children and young people against HIV and AIDS.
“We must fulfil their rights to information, sex education, skills, voluntary confidential testing and counselling. They have the right to know about AIDS, and they have the right to know their status,” said UNICEF Representative in Jamaica Bertrand Bainvel.
The ICC officials supported these rights yesterday with their visit to Children First, a UNICEF-supported non-governmental organization serving some 600 Jamaican children aged 3 to 18 with youth-friendly programmes – including the Bashy Bus service.
An end to risky behaviours
“We cater to the needs of children through the provision of education, training and life skills,” said Children First Executive Director Claudette Pious. “Among other key programmes, this is a second chance for school dropouts to go back to school, equip themselves and go out and find jobs.”
Ms. Pious added that the organization actively involves young people “by having them sit on our board making the key decisions.”
There are growing reports of potentially risky sexual practices among Jamaican youths. The ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 partners have teamed up to keep them – and their worldwide peers – safe and healthy.
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