Sehwag and Sangakkara star in global Think Wise campaign at ICC CWC 2011

Wednesday, 26 January 2011 00:02 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

They may be rivals on the field of play, but India opener Virender Sehwag and Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara have joined together to star in a new Think Wise campaign for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.

The players feature in a public service announcement, released today and available free to all broadcasters across the globe, encouraging young people to ‘get the facts, protect yourself’, as part of the ICC’s Think Wise partnership with UNAIDS and UNICEF promoting HIV prevention.

The campaign will encourage young people to be informed, take appropriate action to prevent HIV infection and stand together against the stigma and discrimination often facing people living with HIV. Although UNAIDS announced that new HIV infections had fallen by 20 per cent between 2001 and 2009, more than 7,000 people were infected each day in 2009 and one out of every three of these was a young person aged between 15 and 24 years.

“The ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 provides an opportunity to use our profile as cricketers to deliver important social messages to the hundreds of millions of supporters who will be watching the tournament across the world,” said Virender Sehwag.

“I hope this public service announcement can encourage young people to get the facts and protect themselves from HIV. While my main focus for this tournament is on helping India win the World Cup, I hope that a legacy of the event will be that more young people feel comfortable talking about their relationships and understand how to protect themselves against HIV.”

The colourful promos, that are 30 and 45 seconds in duration, are set to a lively theme tune of “let’s talk” and aim to encourage young people across the globe to discuss HIV prevention. As part of the script, Sangakkara encourages fans to “wait, stick to one partner, or use a condom”, before Sehwag calls on young adults to “get the facts, protect yourself against HIV”.

Sehwag and Sangakkara, who are both Think Wise champions, have been active supporters of the partnership since it was formed in 2003, visiting projects at ICC events and promoting global HIV prevention and stigma reduction messages. Other active supporters in the partnership include Graeme Smith (South Africa), Shakib-Al-Hasan (Bangladesh) and Ramnaresh Sarwan (West Indies).

“As a Think Wise champion and cricketer, I want to help educate young people on how to protect themselves from HIV. It is important that young people around the world have access to the right information to help them make informed decisions and break down stigma and discrimination. Through this public service announcement, I want to help stop the spread of HIV and encourage young people to get the facts, talk openly, and protect themselves from HIV,” said Sangakkara.

A number of other Think Wise activities are planned during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. Players will have a series of interactions with local community groups supported by UNAIDS and UNICEF throughout the three host countries, teams will wear red ribbons on their shirts in key matches during the competition and HIV prevention messages will be promoted at venues on all match days, including during the national anthem ceremonies. Young adults taking part in the ICC Cricket World Cup schools programme in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka have already received HIV education sessions as part of the Think Wise programme.