|The Black Caps are taking part in an initiative using cricket to put HIV prevention and anti-stigma messages in the spotlight. The global Think Wise campaign is running through the 2013 Champions Trophy Tournament, which is underway in England and Wales.
The plan is about using the power of cricket and cricket players to reach out to large numbers of people, particularly young people, on HIV issues. There will be dedicated matches, site visits and coaching clinics where awareness and stigma will be highlighted.
Black Caps Ian Butler, Corey Anderson, Colin Munro and bowling coach Shane Bond have already run a one hour coaching clinic in Cardiff as part of the campaign.
They worked with youngsters on cricket skills, and also brought in information about Think Wise and taught them about HIV/AIDS awareness.
After the clinic Bond said “Anything that raises the awareness of AIDS and cricket in general as well is a good thing,” as reported on the ICC’s website.
When asked about his knowledge of HIV and AIDS, Bond added: “It’s probably something I’m unfamiliar with, to be fair. It’s not something I deal with on an everyday basis or see on an everyday basis, but having toured Africa and the sub-continent on a number of occasions, that’s when you see it in its realism, so whatever you can do as a cricketer to raise the awareness of anything that helps under-privileged or people that are less fortunate than ourselves is good.
“I think the kids at today’s event had the chance to do something different, and also the chance to meet heroes who you would never get to meet on a daily basis.”
Colin Munro Munro added: “It was a good experience, building that awareness as well that surrounds it. Obviously there’s a big media push around the world about HIV and AIDS in Africa and the sub-continent but people all over the world suffer, including here in Wales, so to get the word out is pretty special.”
Munro said he is completely comfortable talking about HIV/AIDS. “I grew up in South Africa where the disease is well known and that’s perhaps why I am comfortable but that was in the 90s and its more prolific now but I’m pretty happy to talk about it and answer any questions people may have. It’s important and good to give back.”
Six of the Champions Trophy matches, including the final, are being dedicated to Think Wise.
All players and officials will wear red ribbons as a sign of solidarity with people living with HIV. A public service announcement featuring star players Kumar Sangakkara and Virender Sehwag will be screened at selected tournament matches, Think Wise messages will feature on the boundary boards and information about the campaign and HIV prevention will feature in match programmes.
“As we mark 10 years of action on AIDS through cricket, we have seen how cricket can unite billions of people across the globe,” says UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel sidibé.
“The Think Wise global cricket AIDS partnership and the inspiring involvement of cricketing greats gives important profile and builds momentum towards changing and saving lives.” There are approximately 2000 people living with HIV in New Zealand. Of that population, about 80 per cent identify as gay or bisexual men. Worldwide, more than 34 million people live with HIV/AIDS.
Jacqui Stanford - 9th June 2013