“Cricket can help combat HIV and AIDS”, says Graeme Smith
12 September 2007
The Proteas skipper Graeme Smith is not only upbeat about victory in the ICC 2007 World Twenty20 but also optimistic about how cricket can add to combating HIV among children and young people.
Talking tough to the opponents, Smith, who joins an array of leading cricket icons to aid the “Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS” global campaign, couldn’t ignore the attention he was getting from scores of children and young admirers during a training session at Johannesburg’s Wanderers Stadium.
“HIV and AIDS are relevant and pressing subjects here in South Africa. As cricketers we command the attention of the public and the media, and we want to use that to try and better the situation for the children and young people,” he said.
He added: “We have an important role to ensure that the message that says children’s rights and needs take prominence in the fight against AIDS reaches all the relevant people.
”Fielding coach Jonty Rhodes joined the skipper in a short coaching clinic for the children. The smiles on the children and how they treasured the autographed miniature bats by the cricket stars left an impression that cricket has touched them in more ways than one.
The “Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS” campaign stresses the unacceptable levels of HIV prevalence among children and young people. It also makes a call to action to de-stigmatize the AIDS epidemic and shows how the values of cricket are applicable responses to AIDS while giving greater visibility to children living with and affected by AIDS.
The campaign recognizes the power of world class cricket as a platform to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS, especially among children and young people. The ICC World Twenty20 2007, taking place in South Africa in September, is expected to add impetus to the campaign.
The South African cricketers have also recorded video footage, amplifying key messages overarching the “Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS” campaign as part of the ongoing awareness programme.
The backdrop to the campaign is the staggering numbers of than 1000 children under 15 dying from AIDS-related diseases every 24 hours. So, far more than 15 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS.
Read more on the ICC Twenty20 World Championships
Read more on Unite for Children: Unite against AIDS