Team Canada - 2022 Commonwealth Games Birmingham, England

Bowling Out AIDS moves forward with "Coach Cards"

Bowling Out AIDS (BOA) is breaking new ground in the battle against HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean with its focus on helping coaches develop cricket players' skills while at the same time teaching key health lessons. More than 240,000 people—half of them women—were estimated to be living with HIV in the Caribbean in 2009, making it the second-most affected region in the world after sub-Saharan Africa.

While BOA is still in its early stages, the program has taken a crucial step forward with the development of coach education materials for cricket coaches and youth leaders to use in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The centrepiece is a set of "Coach Cards" that are directly in line with BOA's goal of helping to develop the sport of cricket while improving cricket players' knowledge, attitudes and behaviours around HIV/AIDS. Each card is targeted to specific age groups: One side describes a specific cricket skill, along with associated teaching points and drills that can be used to improve that skill; the flip side focuses on teaching a skill that's relevant both to cricket playing and staying healthy.

 

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A card tailored to 9-to-12 year-olds, for example, includes an activity for five players—one guarding a stump, using a cricket bat to protect it, and four others who try to hit the stump with a ball. But the drill goes beyond players improving their throwing accuracy and helping the batter learn to better protect their wicket: The throwers are "health threats"—such as a virus—and if they hit the stump, the batter has "caught a virus." In order to reinforce the link between the cricket skills being practiced and the health lesson, the coach debriefs the activity to drive home the messages that "threats can come from different directions" and that "sometimes the threat of infection comes from your friends and teammates."

Aimed at youth between 11 and 19, BOA got its start in the mid-2000s when the West Indies Cricket Team visited the United Kingdom. During that visit, the U.K.'s Department for International Development (DFID) announced it would support a cricket-focused anti-HIV/AIDS program in the Caribbean to contribute to the legacy of the Cricket World Cup held in the West Indies in 2007. Commonwealth Games Canada (CGC), with its extensive experience running programs in the Caribbean, agreed to deliver the BOA program on DFID's behalf. The next step in the program's development is the training of Master Coaches from each of the Caribbean territories.

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