Reportage

Stars back AIDS awareness campaign at ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa

04 September 2007

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20070904_featurestory_ICCTwenty20_240.jpg

The cricket World Twenty20 will focus
on children, young people and HIV.
Logo credits: ICC

International cricketers will highlight the situation of children and young people living with HIV as part of a far-reaching AIDS awareness campaign during the 2007 Twenty20 world cricket championship in South Africa.

Players, participating in the competition from 11 to 24 September in Johannesburg, will promote HIV prevention messages as part of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) ongoing partnership with UNAIDS and UNICEF.

Cricket fans will also be targeted by loveLife - South Africa's national youth HIV prevention programme - who are also partners in the initiative.

Top players, including South Africa captain Graeme Smith, Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka and India's Yuvraj Singh will feature in public service announcements for the 'Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS' campaign highlighting how HIV can affect the lives of young people. Broadcasters from 105 countries will be encouraged to use the messages that will be screened to fans on giant screens at the 27 matches during the tournament.

Other stars will visit UNICEF and loveLife community-based project activities in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg to promote AIDS awareness to young people and encourage them to develop life-skills to avoid HIV infection.

Players also plan to wear red ribbons in selected matches to demonstrate their support for people living with HIV.

Sri Lanka wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar Sangakkara said: "I hope people will listen to cricketers, I hope that our support helps and that it brings a different perspective to building interest in these issues and raising awareness. It's important to raise awareness any way that you can and if different voices and fresh faces help then that is good."

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New Zealand cricketter Ross Taylor visiting
community-based project in South Africa.
Photo credits: ICC/Rebecca Hearfield


South Africa star AB de Villiers added: "I have a very soft heart and to see those children and the way they cope with HIV puts a lot of what I do as a cricketer in perspective. I have been involved in a few projects to do with 'Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS' in different parts of the world where we have toured and it has been a very worthwhile thing to do.

"I feel a real calling to help wherever I can. The issue of AIDS is close to my heart because of the impact it has had on my country but I think we have a responsibility as high-profile sportsmen to do what we can as it helps to open eyes and it inspires people to do something about the problem. Awareness is a big factor in helping prevent the spread of HIV so the more we talk about it and keep it in the public eye the better."

India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh added: "Any social cause is important for top players playing any sport because people look up to you and you need to make them understand and educate them about issues relating to HIV. Through the ICC working with UNAIDS and UNICEF, we can deliver important messages to people all over the world."

Michael Hussey of Australia will also be supporting the campaign. He said: "When I visited an education project in the Caribbean during the ICC Cricket World Cup, I saw for myself the importance of educating young people on HIV and AIDS. UNICEF and UNAIDS play a vital role in addressing this epidemic and by supporting this partnership, by meeting young people and raising awareness of HIV and AIDS, I hope I can personally play a part in reducing discrimination."

As well as player-related activities, the 500 volunteers working at the event have all received HIV and AIDS education from loveLife health trainers, supported by UNAIDS. There will also be advertising boards at the grounds promoting the 'Unite for Children, Unite Against Aids' campaign.

The African Broadcast Media Partnership Against HIV/AIDS - a coalition of more than 50 African broadcast companies - will also be supporting the partnership, promoting player visits and event activities related to the partnership.

Cricket is popular in many of the countries that are most impacted by AIDS, including India and South Africa.

“UNAIDS has worked for many years with the ICC and the partnership has helped us reach large audiences with HIV prevention messages. Sport is a powerful force for change and the cricket players are great roles models helping us not only promote HIV prevention but also tackle the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS,” said Andy Seale, team leader for civil society partnerships at UNAIDS.

Part of this story first appeared on the ICC web site: http://www.icc-cricket.com/


 



Links:

View the two new 30-second Public Service Announcements featuring five of the world's
   top cricketers talking about how children and young people are affected by HIV


Read feature story: Cricket chief and star show AIDS solidarity in India

Read more on the ICC Twenty20 World Championship

Read more on Unite for Children: Unite against AIDS

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