|© UNICEF South Africa/2007/Hearfield|
|Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara coaching a young girl.|
By Guy Hubbard and Dan Thomas
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 12 September 2007 – The worlds of cricket and AIDS prevention united for children yesterday at the start of the ICC World Twenty 20 tournament.
As South Africa took to the field against the West Indies for the first match on Tuesday night, messages from the Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign were broadcast throughout the stadium and on television screens around the world.
An advertising board announcing the global campaign on AIDS and young people jostled for the attention of the TV cameras and the crowd alongside those of the official sponsors around the boundary.
Two new public service announcements produced by UNICEF for broadcast during the competition feature five top cricketers talking about the impact of HIV and AIDS on children. The African Broadcast Media Partnership Against HIV/AIDS will broadcast the campaign’s messages to more than 100 countries.
|© UNICEF South Africa/2007|
|Skipper Graeme Smith of the South Africa team takes time from the crucial ICC World Twenty 20 championships to give a coaching clinic to children at Wanderers Stadium.|
Highlighting the impact of AIDS
Building on a successful partnership at the ICC Cricket World Cup in the West Indies earlier this year, the International Cricket Council (ICC), UNAIDS and UNICEF have teamed up once again to draw attention to the plight of children and young people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.
Cricket is a very popular sport in many of the countries that are most affected by AIDS, including India and South Africa. Together, these two countries are home to around 11 million of the 40 million people estimated to be living with HIV.
Throughout the tournament, which runs until 24 September, cricket stars will highlight the impact of AIDS by visiting children affected by the disease and talking to journalists about it. Reports on visits by the teams appear on a multimedia cricket partnership website, www.uniteforchildren.org/cricket.
UNICEF and LoveLife, a South African organization that aims to reduce HIV infection, have arranged for the players to meet children and young people affected by HIV and AIDS in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.
|© UNICEF South Africa/2007|
|South African all-rounder and AIDS campaign supporter Shaun Pollock surrounded by young admirers at the stadium in Johannesburg.|
Excitement and inspiration
After autographing bats and playing catch with children from the Johannesburg Welfare Society and LoveLife on Monday, South African captain Graeme Smith said: “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.”
The Unite for Children, Unite against Aids campaign, started by UNICEF and UNAIDS in 2005, seeks to draw the world’s attention to the impact of AIDS and HIV on children under 18, and to raise funds to help tackle the disease.
More than 40 top cricket stars – including Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara, West Indian captain Ramnaresh Sarwan and South Africa’s Makhaya Ntini – have also shown their support for the campaign by recording special TV and radio messages for use in a future publicity drive for Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS.
The exciting opening match at Wanderers Stadium was won by South Africa, defeating the West Indies team by eight wickets. The match set in motion not only a thrilling two weeks of international cricket but also an opportunity to help the world understand how AIDS affects children and inspire people to help.
Every minute of every day, AIDS costs the world another child’s life. It’s time for us all to Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS. Donate now!
ICC Twenty 20
ICC Twenty20 finals boost global AIDS campaign [with video and audio]
Cricket stars back global AIDS campaign [with video]
International Cricket Council website
(external link, opens in a new window)