|Player:||NFI McCallum, KT Sandher, DR Lockhart, Umar Bhatti, JK Kamande, N Odhiambo, RL Bhudia, ML Patel|
DateLine: 7th February 2007
Players from three countries taking part in the ICC World Cricket League Division 1 (WCL Div. 1) in Kenya took time out of their schedules today to visit a primary school in a part of Nairobi seriously affected by HIV and AIDS.
The players, some of whom will be playing in tomorrow’s WCL Div. 1 final, visited Ayany Primary School in the Kibera district of the city and held a coaching clinic for more than 500 children. Many of the children are either HIV positive or have been orphaned by the virus.
Two children from the school will be present at tomorrow’s final to assist with the coin toss before Kenya and Scotland do battle for the WCL Div. 1 title.
“There are a number of initiatives in place at this school to help combat HIV and AIDS,” said teacher Leah Asego. “We are trying to empower these children with life skills, how they can care for and support a sick parent or how they can learn to live with HIV themselves,” she said.
“It is great for us that these top cricketers have given up their time the day before a big game to give something very precious to our school,” added Ms Asego.
This activity was the latest in ICC's long-term partnership with UNAIDS and UNICEF, which aims to educate and reduce stigma associated with the virus around the world.
“It was a very humbling experience for me,” said Scotland batsman Neil McCallum. “To see these children so happy, so enthusiastic and so friendly has been the highlight of this tour for me,” said the 29-year-old, who scored a match-winning century against Ireland on 30 January.
It was a sentiment echoed by Canada left-arm slow bowler Kevin Sandher, who also took part in the coaching clinic.
“I get hit for a six and I stress out about it. Others in the team get a duck and have long faces but really in the grand scheme of things, none of that is important compared to what some of these kids are going through. I see them so happy and it is an inspiration to me. Everything is put into perspective,” said Sandher (26). Also present at the clinic were Dougie Lockhart ( Scotland ) and Umar Bhatti ( Canada ) as well as several members of the Kenya squad including Jimmy Kamande, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Rajesh Bhudia, Malhar Patel and chief executive of Cricket Kenya Tom Tikolo.
“We at Cricket Kenya will come back here to Kibera so that the taste you have got for cricket today will not be wasted. I want some of you to play for Kenya some day,” Mr Tikolo told the assembled children after the coaching clinic had concluded.
“We have many programmes in place here in Nairobi and throughout the country,” said Julie Mwabe of UNICEF ( Kenya ).
“Our partnership with the ICC is very important to us. Sport is such a great way to break down barriers and the work that cricket has done in recent years has helped change the way HIV and AIDS is viewed around the world. That is very important when trying to combat stigma and discrimination,” she said.
In September 2003 the ICC became the first global sporting body to enter into a partnership with UNAIDS to help raise awareness about HIV and AIDS. Over the following three years many of the sport's top players have been active supporters of this cause with special activities taking place throughout the cricket world on a regular basis.
During tomorrow’s WCL Div. 1 final the players and umpires will all be wearing red ribbons as a sign of their support for the work that UNAIDS and UNICEF do to combat the global epidemic.
A range of activities, involving all 16 teams, has been organised to coincide with the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 in the West Indies , starting next month.
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