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Caribbean youngsters bat against HIV/AIDS
West Indies And England Players Take Time Out To Raise Awareness Of HIV/AIDS

Players from the West Indies and England teams took time out of their training ahead of the second Test match in Antigua to meet with local youngsters as part of the ICC’s global HIV/AIDS awareness partnership with UNICEF, UNAIDS and the Global Media AIDS Initiative.

The children received coaching tips from Chris Gayle and Denesh Ramdin from the West Indies and England’s Alistair Cook and Monty Panesar. They also collected autographs from the players and were photographed with the ICC’s Catch the Spirit flag, which is travelling the globe during the ICC’s Centenary year in 2009.

Windies captain Chris Gayle and Dinesh Ramdin with some of the kids.

The meetings were organized by the 3H Network, a local NGO which works to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, and to address the plight of persons living with and affected by HIV/AIDS in Antigua and Barbuda.

West Indies wicketkeeper Ramdin said: “The ICC’s work around HIV/AIDS awareness is something which a number of cricketers have been involved in and I’m happy to be a part of this in Antigua today. It’s important that we play our role where we can to help raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and to reduce the stigma associated with it.”

England vice-captain Cook enjoyed meeting the young members of the 3H Network and he hoped the children felt the same. “I hope that the youngsters who came to join us at practice today really enjoyed themselves,” he said.

“It was great to speak with them to learn about their stories and chat about cricket. I hope that we can continue to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS so that more youngsters can live a healthy lifestyle and enjoy the game which I’m so passionate about.”

ICC Chief Executive, Haroon Lorgat said: “Cricket is a hugely popular sport in many developing countries affected by HIV/AIDS and where children are especially vulnerable.

“We want our high profile cricketers who are great role models to deliver important messages on HIV/AIDS awareness and to encourage young people to live a healthy lifestyle. Our great sport and the ICC’s centenary celebrations provide us with an excellent opportunity to deliver these messages across our 104 member countries.”

The visit was supported by UNAIDS in close collaboration with the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership (CBMP) as part of a global cricket campaign on HIV/AIDS which is also assisted by UNICEF.

It builds on a series of activities that were delivered during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, held in the West Indies, aimed at raising awareness on HIV/AIDS and reducing stigma around the disease. Sachin Tendulkar, Mike Hussey and Kumar Sangakkara were among the players to visit community projects during the event. The campaign also supported the CBMP’s ‘Live Up’ campaign which delivered cricket-themed education messages.

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