Dhaka, Apr 6 IBNS | 4 months ago

After three pulsating weeks of men's and women's international cricket played out in front of terrific crowds across Bangladesh, it is fitting that the finals of the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 should take place on the occasion of the first United Nations International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.


Throughout the ICC WT20 2014, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has partnered with UNAIDS and UNICEF to deliver the global awareness partnership THINK WISE, and worked with both Room to Read to promote literacy and WASH United to promote hygiene and good sanitation across Bangladesh.

It is not just at its major events that the ICC uses cricket as a tool for development and peace.

The road to the men's ICC World Twenty20 2014 began with a regional tournament in Africa in April 2012. One of participating teams on the opening day of that event was Rwanda, a country where 6 April also has significant connotations.

The date marks the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide that saw one million Tutsi and moderate Hutu people killed by soldiers and militia in just 100 days, and cricket is playing a small part in helping to heal the wounds from this event.

The Rwanda Cricket Association (RCA) is leading efforts to grow the game in the country, and the ICC, as well as supporting the RCA, has partnered with the charity Cricket Without Boundaries (CWB) to deliver the THINK WISE message to young people in Rwanda.

CWB has visited Rwanda 11 times since 2007, coaching more than 18,000 children and training nearly 200 new coaches.

As well as teaching cricket skills, CWB also uses the sport as a way to introduce vital HIV and AIDS awareness messages, and also uses the game to help unite people from all different tribal backgrounds.

One person who has benefited directly from this programme is Audifax Byiringiro, who first took part in a coaching session in 2008 and is now part of the Rwandan national team.

Like the majority of Rwandans, Audifax has been deeply affected by the genocide. His father and two brothers were killed and his surviving brother lost a leg.

He says that as well as giving him a passion and a profession, cricket has given him something much greater.

"After the genocide I was struggling with life. Bombs had destroyed our house so we had to move," he said.

"The first time I met Cricket Without Boundaries was in 2008, and I really got involved from there. I went to one of their coaching sessions and everyone was enjoying it. Apart from cricket they were also giving messages on life. This showed that apart from the game they really cared about our personal issues and problems," Byiringiro said.

"It showed me that in cricket I might find a family and be involved in that family," he said.

One week ago, the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) was awarded the prestigious Laureus Sports Award in the 'Spirit of Sport' category.

The Laureus Awards celebrate the greatest sporting achievements of the year, and Afghanistan was recognised for its remarkable success over the past 12 years and its role as a source of national pride.

From the grassroots of Rwandan cricket to the ICC WT20 2014 finals in Dhaka, cricket is united in its ongoing support for development and peace.

(Posted on 06-04-2014)