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Cricket World Cup 2007: ICC Officials and Cricketers Visit UNICEF-funded Projects

© UNICEF Jamaica/2007
Malcolm Speed, Chief Executive Officer (third right), his wife and other ICC officials discuss sex and HIV/AIDS with the young people of Children First, Spanish Town

14 March 2007 – Kingston, Jamaica: The Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007 kicked off yesterday with a victory by the West Indies over Pakistan in front of a record crowd of over 16,000 on a wickedly hot day at Jamaica’s Sabina Park. Yesterday’s win allowed many Windies fans to dream and one to openly hope that “our boys can once again bring the Cup home.”  Cricket fever has gripped the West Indies.

Today another cricket match was played in Spanish Town that will probably not get the coverage of all the other games.  Yet, the two competing teams are as well known as many of the CWC cricketers. Here in Jamaica St. Catherine’s Parish, Safe Sex and Abstinence, the defending champions took on Sex and Promiscuity, the challengers. The winners were safe Sex and Abstinence, using what every good batsman is taught – protection of one’s wicket.

Sex “n” Cricket is skit performed with song by the ‘Bashy Bus Krew’ that uses cricketing metaphors to promote prevention against AIDS. It was specifically composed for CWC 2007.  The chorus is catchy: “Sex is similar to cricket – is either you work or don’t work with it … you have to take care.” Protection, safe and sex are stressed throughout.

The audience today is not the 16,000 of Sabina Park, but Malcolm Speed, Chief Executive Officer of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and Jon Long, the ICC’s Manager of Member Services and Corporate Affairs. 

Following the announcement last week of the partnership between the ICC, CWC, UNICEF, UNAIDS and the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership (CBMP) on the Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign, ICC’s CEO told the media today that there will be a series of visits by cricketers and eminent personalities around the Caribbean throughout CWC 2007  to look at AIDS programmes.  “Hopefully these visits can help alleviate discrimination and stigma”, he said noting that “30 percent of people living with HIV are from the cricket playing countries”.

Throughout the 2007 Cricket World Cup, UNICEF and its partners will remind cricket fans that to protect children and young people against HIV, “We must fulfill their rights to information, sex education, skills and voluntary confidential testing and counseling. They have the right to know about AIDS and they have the rights to know their status", UNICEF’s Representative for Jamaica, Bertrand Bainvel said today.

Sex ‘n” Cricket was just one of the features for today’s visitors from the ICC to Children First, a non-governmental organization sponsored by UNICEF that serves some 600 children aged between 3 and 18.

Claudette Pious, the Executive Director of the NGO is running a critical operation on probably less than a shoe string budget. “We cater to the needs of children through the provision of education, training and life skills. Among other key programmes this is second chance for school dropouts to go back to school, equip themselves and go out and find jobs”, she tells Speed. “We work with children using child participation techniques and empowering them to become actively involved in decision making by having them sit on our board and making the key decisions”, she says.

Reports about potentially risky sexual practices among young people in Jamaica are growing.  These include sex in exchange for money or material gain and sex in public transportation vehicles. In 2005, with the support of UNICEF, Children First launched the Bashy Bush – a mobile service aimed at disseminating information on AIDS and encouraging responsible sexual decision-making among young people throughout Jamaica.


Zimbabwean Cricket Star Visits Jamaican Youth Centre

16 March - Kingston, Jamaica: Following an aggressive knock of 67 runs against Ireland yesterday in a match that ended in a thrilling tie at Jamaica’s Sabina Park, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Zimbabwe’s 23 year old opening batsman, took time off today to do what he enjoys  – helping children.

Young people at UNICEF-supported Portmore’s Youth Information Centre (YIC) in Jamaica’s St. Catherine Parish welcomed the visit this afternoon by the cricketer who was very at ease this participating in a candid empowerment session on HIV and AIDS.

Sibanda’s visit is one many others which have been made by cricketers all week throughout the Caribbean. They are an important component of  the partnership between the International Cricket Council, Cricket World Cup West Indies 2007, UNICEF, UNAIDS and the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership to Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS.

During an interactive session led by Tanya Richards, the Centre Manager, boys and girls, aged between 10 and 18 openly discussed the issue of AIDS, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and protection. 

“How do you prevent yourself from getting AIDS”? asks Richards. “Use a condom”, is the immediate response from a girl in the front. And then the issue bounces back and forth facilitated by visual aids, until all areas are covered and everyone in the room is equipped with knowledge to protect themselves from STIs.

The message articulated by Richards to the youth: “Sex comes with consequences –  STIs and babies. If you can’t be good be careful”. And if this is not enough, photographs on the wall bring this message home for those who may not quite have gotten it.

Richards said that obviously abstinence is recommended but if this is not possible then the Centre distributes both male and female condoms to youth, but only after the issue is discussed with the recipients.  “Whatever is discussed stays here and is treated with the strictest confidence”, she said.

Sibanda is warm, relaxed and gentle. These qualities and his youth help him to reach children easily. He is like a big brother. “I want to play cricket for the next 20 years.  But If I have unsafe sex I’ll cut my career short.  If you can’t abstain, then stick to one partner and do the right thing”. He reminds them to value their lives and focus on important goals and dreams because they can come true. “I always dreamed about being the best in my career and to representing my country and now look”, he tells them.

Stephanie Watson, a UNAIDS Monitoring Specialist is upbeat about the visit by Sibanda.  “This is exactly what the UNAIDS/UNICEF partnership needs.  What we are trying to do is to get the story about children and AIDS out there and this is one way of doing it”.

The UNICEF supported and evaluated YIC network was set up in 1998 by the Ministry of Education and Culture. It provides  youth friendly sites for accessing information on a wide range of issues that are of interest to young people..

UNICEF’s representative in Jamaica , Bertrand Bainvel sees these YICS as key projects to be supported. “They offer programmes to empower youth and provide skills while helping to protect young people against AIDS, he notes. “But they will only be successful if we start with the needs of youth, listen to them and deliver prevention measures  as part of wider services”. 


Articles by David Singh

 

 

 
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