Cricketers around the world show once again their support for young people living with HIV in the Global Think Wise partnership on HIV.
Throughout the 2014 World Twenty-20 tournament (WT20) of the ICC (International Cricket Council) held in Bangladesh until April 6, the big names of cricket from different international teams participated in training sessions and field visits. They met young people living with and affected by HIV, in order to raise awareness about the importance of access to information and services on HIV.
The Think Wise initiative is a long-standing partnership between the ICC, UNICEF and UNSAID that uses the power of cricket to reach a large number of people and raise awareness about HIV. This partnership highlights messages of HIV prevention and the need to eliminate stigma and discrimination associated with HIV has been shown throughout the tournament in 2014 WT20. Players and officials have raised red ribbons in solidarity with people living with HIV and Think Wise were aired in stages.
Under the Think Wise activities organized in Bangladesh, players from teams from Australia, Bangladesh, West Indies and South Africa have hosted training sessions and special events for children and youth. In addition to receiving practical advice game the players, the young participants were able to spend time with them and talk about HIV and life skills issues. Pranto Sarkar, a young participant aged 11, said he was excited to spend time with the stars of cricket to play with them and enjoy their experience. “I can not believe I played with them, for me it’s a dream come true” he says.
A special field visit was organized for members of the International Women’s Team Bangladesh to Ashar Alo Society, an organization of people living with HIV. The players met children living with and affected by HIV, who told their stories and problems they face.
Stressing the importance of partnership with the National Programme against AIDS in Bangladesh, Bangladesh Cricket Board and partners in civil society who helped organize events, trainings and field visits, Dr. Tajudeen Oyewale, HIV Officer at UNICEF Bangladesh, said: “These events in Bangladesh are evidence of the real power of sport to reach teenagers and provide them with information on HIV prevention. The uniqueness of this course lies in the integration messages against HIV in training exercises cricket, and in the broad partnership between UNICEF, UNSAID, the ICC and national partners ” .
Think Wise has prompted many great cricketers to join efforts to promote HIV prevention and the fight against stigma and discrimination associated with HIV. For 2014 WT20 tournament, Shakib Al Hasan, international virtuoso cricket from Bangladesh, became the spokesman Think Wise campaign, referring to HIV prevention and stigma at several public events, appearing in a public service announcement Think Wise played on cricket grounds throughout the tournament and participating in the Think Wise activities in the tournament with his colleagues.
“I feel privileged to participate in the Think Wise campaign. As an athlete, I know how we can have broader impact in addressing the key issues of HIV, particularly in developing countries like Bangladesh, “said Mr. Al Hasan.
Commenting on the importance of the involvement of sports stars in the development and dissemination of key messages on HIV and health, UNSAID Country Coordinator in Bangladesh, Leo Kenny, said: “We appreciate the partnership with the ICC WT20 and UNICEF, as well as ambassadors Shakib Al Hasan to use cricket as a support to HIV everybody’s business.”