Australian cricketers visit HIV/AIDS support centre

Durban, March 3 (IANS) Five Australian cricketers visited the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust (HACT) in the Valley of a Thousand Hills outside Durban, ahead of their first Twenty20 International match against South Africa on Friday.

John Hastings, Glenn Maxwell, Andrew Tye, James Faulkner and Adam Zampa toured the centre on Wednesday, learning about the support it provides in response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the rural community. The players took on the centre’s senior women — who are training for an upcoming tournament — in a game of football.

The women, known as Gogos (uGogo is Zulu for grandmother) are training for the Gogo Olympics, an HACT initiative that encourages older women to be active and involved in sport. The Gogos then tried their hand at cricket – many for the first time – under the tutelage of the players.

The final stage of the activity was a visit to the centre’s craft project where local crafters produce items that are sold locally and internationally through Oxfam to generate much-needed funds for the centre and its residents.

“It’s been a pretty inspiring afternoon getting to see how their whole organisation works. From the making of the beads, to how they get their money, to how they support people with AIDS,” fast bowler Hastings said.

“There’s no doubt we take a lot for granted but when you come to a place like this and see how much they do, and the smiles they can put on people’s faces when they’re going through adversity, it’s pretty special. For us, it’s very humbling.”

Oxfam Australia’s Chief Executive Helen Szoke welcomed the visit by the players. “Oxfam is excited to be teaming up with Cricket Australia (CA) to bring attention to the work we do helping lift people out of poverty around the world.”

The visit to HACT is part of Cricket Cares, CA’s community action programme. CA made a donation of clothing and sports equipment to the centre. HACT is a programme partner of Oxfam Australia. The visit was established through a partnership between Oxfam Australia and CA.

The first T20I of the three-match series between Australia and South Africa will be played at Kingsmead Cricket Ground here on Friday.

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