|© UNICEF South Africa/2007|
|Revving the youth AIDS campaign of UNICEF, UNAIDS and the International Cricket Council, South African cricketer Makhaya Ntini gives a pep talk to young people at Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg.|
By David McKenzie and Dan Thomas
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 24 September 2007 – The first-ever ICC Twenty20 competition came to a climax today, transforming the image of cricket and raising awareness about how children are affected by HIV and AIDS.
In a thrilling final, India beat Pakistan by just five runs at Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. The final match also capped another successful initiative by the International Cricket Council (ICC), UNAIDS and UNICEF to promote the Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign.
“HIV and AIDS is, for our generation, the major pandemic that we face,” said ICC Chief Executive Malcolm Speed. “Anything positive that sportspeople can do to alleviate the suffering of those who are afflicted with HIV and AIDS,” he added, “they should all be out there doing as much as they can.”
A chance to learn
Throughout the two-week tournament, international cricket stars from most of the participating teams, along with Mr. Speed, visited local projects and schools to meet children living with or affected by HIV and AIDS. The visits were not only a treat for the children but also gave the players and officials a chance to learn about the impact of the disease on children and their communities.
|© UNICEF video|
|End slate from a public service announcement promoting the cricket partnership.|
Players interacted with children from some of South Africa’s poorest communities and were often a little reluctant to leave when it came time to say goodbye.
“These world-class players became children themselves and were able to just let go of their professional sports demeanor and to play,” said UNICEF South Africa Communication Officer Yvonne Duncan, who organized many of the visits.
The cricketers take seriously their role as spokesmen in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Many wore red AIDS-awareness ribbons during the matches, and more than 40 players recorded video messages for a future series of public service announcements intended to fight stigma and discrimination.
A large yellow Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS advertising board was also highly visible at each cricket stadium.
|© UNICEF South Africa/2007/Hearfield|
|South Africa team captain Graeme Smith plays catch with children at Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg.|
Cricket is a 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.
“Through the ICC working with UNAIDS and UNICEF, we can deliver important messages to people all over the world,” said Indian all rounder Yuvraj Singh, who hit six sixes off an over against England.
Prevention, treatment, support
Building on a successful partnership started at the ICC Cricket World Cup in the West Indies earlier this year, the ICC, UNAIDS, UNICEF and many other partners have been working together under the umbrella of the Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign launched by UNICEF and UNAIDS in October 2005 at the United Nations in New York.
The global campaign aims to promote prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission; increase access to antiretroviral therapy for children and young people who need treatment; provide education programmes to help prevent HIV transmission; and increase support for children who are orphaned and left vulnerable by AIDS.
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!
24 September 2007:
ICC Chief Executive Malcolm Speed talks to UNICEF Radio about how cricketers have been helping in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
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)