|Children in the red and blue colours of the global AIDS campaign take to the field in dance during the ICC Cricket World Cup.|
By Lisa McClean-Trotman and Robert Dabney
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 30 April 2007 – As the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 drew to a close this past weekend, the battle to help children affected by AIDS gathered new momentum thanks to the unique partnership between the International Cricket Council (ICC), UNICEF, UNAIDS and the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS.
After the final ball was bowled and just before the Australian team accepted the ICC Cricket World Cup trophy for a third consecutive time, hundreds of schoolchildren swarmed onto the field at the Kensington Oval in Barbados to form a human AIDS ribbon.
Their message to the world was also highlighted earlier on Saturday as Australian and Sri Lankan cricketers and match officials walked onto the field for the final game wearing the red-and-blue ribbons of the Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign.
Partnership raises awareness
The global campaign on AIDS and young people was launched by UNICEF, UNAIDS and many other partners at the United Nations in October 2005 to draw attention to the impact HIV and AIDS is having on the world’s children.
ICC President Percy Sonn praised the partnership for “raising awareness of issues concerning children and AIDS.”
“I would especially like to thank our global partners in this year’s World Cup,” he said at Saturday’s closing ceremony. “I am proud that the International Cricket Council is continuing to play a part in the fight against HIV and AIDS. That was evident as players and officials visited UNICEF-sponsored projects in the Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign.”
|Young people in St. Lucia deliver their HIV-prevention messages to fans during an ICC Cricket World Cup semi-final.|
The role of sports
Mr. Sonn’s sentiments were echoed by UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Nils Kastberg during a news conference held today to highlight achievements of the cricket partnership, as well as the way forward.
“UNICEF values this growing relationship with the ICC,” said Mr. Kastberg. “Sports, such as cricket, can be a strategic entry point for reaching young people with the necessary life skills to help them to make informed choices.... Sports help build self-confidence, self-esteem and tolerance, all of which are necessary in helping to halt the spread of HIV.”
Mr. Kastberg was joined at the news conference by Reeta Bhatia, UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, and Dr. Allyson Leacock, Chair of the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS.
Top cricketers in TV spots
During the course of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, dozens of cricketers and ICC officials visited UNICEF-sponsored projects to meet children in St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, Guyana and Barbados. The visits not only brought media attention to the impact of HIV and AIDS on children but were also life-changing experiences for the children and adults alike.
In Grenada and St. Lucia, young people took the message directly to the cricket stadiums. Scores of Grenadian children combined dance and poetry to raise AIDS awareness, while hundreds of children at a semi-final match in St. Lucia were part of a UNICEF-sponsored ‘carnival’ band wearing shirts with the message, ‘HIV Prevention Begins with You’.
More than 25 of the world’s top international cricket stars – including the winning Australian captain, Ricky Ponting – also starred in a series of TV spots produced by UNICEF to highlight the situation of children affected by AIDS. The 30-second spots were broadcast in stadiums all over the West Indies and on TV throughout the world.
On behalf of the partnership, UNICEF also produced a special Cricket World Cup website to highlight the ways in which the event was helping to draw attention to the impact of HIV and AIDS on children worldwide.
`The spirit of cricket'
ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 wraps up in Barbados [with video]
England cricketers support St. Lucia AIDS centre [with video]
Cricketers promote safe sex and abstinence [with video]