The SportAIDS Project, which seeks to contribute to the reduction of new HIV cases among youths through sport, unveiled its ambitious plans to play a pivotal role in sport development promotion at grassroots level in Harare on Wednesday. Speaking at the launch, SportAIDS spokesperson Lovemore Banda said the project has been designed not only to fight against HIV and AIDS in young people but answer the country's call to develop competitive sportspersons at a young age.
He said this would be achieved through an initiative called Movement Games where the youths will not only learn about the dangers posed by the epidemic but are taught life/survival skills and also have their sporting talents nurtured.
"In the next two weeks we are going to unveil SportAIDS ambassadors and SportAIDS coaches who are sports personalities of repute who have either retired or are still active to spearhead the dissemination of basic information on HIV/AIDS to the youths in schools and communities," said Banda.
These SportAIDS ambassadors and coaches will undergo HIV/AIDS awareness training so that they impart this knowledge together with their skills to talented young people in football, netball, volleyball, rugby, cricket, athletics, handball, basketball, tennis and swimming," said Banda.
Representatives of SportAIDS clubs drawn from primary schools, high schools, universities, private colleges and the community were unveiled at the launch.
They were drawn from Admiral Tait Primary School, Alfa Bricks Primary School, Churchill High School, Butler Secondary School, UMAA Group of Colleges, University of Zimbabwe and Women's University in Africa.
Banda said the SportAIDS Project was working in tandem with Government's Education Mid-Term Plan 2011 to 2015 whose objectives include to, "fully revitalise sports, art and culture and institutionalise and professionalise them as well as fully integrate them into the curricular".
Banda said the project, a product of Summit Care Trust, a non-profit-making organisation operating in Zimbabwe, will also create platforms to enable young people to develop their personal, professional goals while contributing to the development of their community's well-being by becoming torch-bearers of a free HIV/AIDS society.
The key awareness theme that will drive the project will centre on the existing World AIDS Campaign theme, which is "Zero New Infections; Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS Related Deaths".
Summit Care Trust has established mutually beneficial partnerships with a variety of stakeholders, key among them the National Aids Council, Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Ministry of Health and Child Care, Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment and Sports Commission.
"We work hand in glove with these institutions and each of them has seconded a representative to SportAIDS Project. These representatives have formed an advisory committee which gives impetus to the project and is aptly called the SportAIDS Project Advisory Team," said Banda.
National AIDS Council Harare provincial AIDS co-ordinator Adonija Muzondiona said while his organisation has made inroads in fighting HIV/AIDS the use of sport as a tool was commendable.