Cricket Namibia launches new partnership with UNICEF
Thu, Mar 25, 2010 9:35 AM
Hundreds of people gathered at the Wanderers Cricket Ground in Windhoek, Namibia this week for the launch of Kwata Cricket. The partnership between UNICEF and Cricket Namibia promotes sport and play as vital elements in the health and well-being of children and young people.
"UNICEF and UNAIDS have a global agreement with the International Cricket Council, which brings together the cricket playing countries and top cricketers to promote healthy lifestyles, with a focus on HIV prevention and stigma reduction," said UNICEF Representative in Namibia Ian MacLeod.
Kwata Cricket Goodwill Ambassador and former South African international cricket star Paul Adams highlighted the important role that sport can play in young people's development.
"For me, cricket instilled discipline, and gave me a passion for something bigger than my daily life. I learned a lot about values, coping with failure and success, and about dealing with pressure," he said.
Mr. Adams grew up in a rough neighbourhood in Cape Town and said jokingly that he learned to bowl by stealing hubcaps off moving cars.
"In the end it kept me off the street, and was the beginning of a career that took me around the world," he said. "The coordination plays a role in developing the brain of a young child to be a healthy adult… Hopefully they’ll create that circle with their kids, as they go on with life."
Kwata means ‘catch’ in several indigenous Namibian languages, and the initiative uses the slogan ‘catch your dreams.’ In a country with extreme poverty, this means creating opportunities for children through cricket, and building a future for cricket – in Namibia – through children.
"For us, to build a future for cricket in this country, we have to have a broad base," said CEO of Cricket Namibia Laurie Pieters. "So we are looking at extending this programme to 10,000 or maybe more in our 5-year and 10-year development programmes, and we just think it is a great sport; it’s a great sport for discipline, for team building, a team sport, and it builds great characters."
Every week, Kwata Cricket coaches more than 3,000, third and fourth grade students in 15 schools. It brings together children from all socioeconomic backgrounds, and a particular effort is made to get girls involved.
"There already is a structure in place in the country for young boys playing cricket," said Mr. MacLeod. "But there was nothing for girls. And when we’re talking particularly around HIV, it’s young girls in the country who are at the most risk and most vulnerable."
There is now an official Namibian under-17 girls’ cricket team, and they are already touring Southern Africa, and winning.
"I play with my heart," said Eveleen, 17. "That is what our coach taught us: play with your heart and you will do well. And we are!"