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Proteas' 434-run chase awes HIV+ kids

Pramod Samantray and Jajati Karan | October 20, 2006, 8:26 PM IST

Ahmedabad: The South African cricket team may have lost its first match versus New Zealand but that hasn't dampened their enthusiaism.

The popular Proteas are using their stature to promote an AIDS awareness campaign by the ICC and UNICEF. They took time out and spent a few hours with HIV positive children in Ahmedabad.

Jonty Rhodes, Shaun Pollock, Ab De Villiers and Andrew Hall took time off an afternoon to visit 14 children affected by HIV. And the faces of the kids said it all.

Ten-year-old Parth dreams of being a cricketer one day, and being HIV+ isn't going to stop him. Well, if smashing a delivery from Jonty Rhodes is anything to go by, then Parth is definitely on the right track.

"It feels very nice to meet these cricketers. We asked them, 'What does one need to do to become a cricketer?' I play cricket and I want to become a cricketer," says little Parth.

The players spent time signing autographs for the awe-struck children and answering questions about life as world famous sports stars.

"Interestingly enough, they asked how did we manage to chase 434 against Australia. So, the awareness here is amazing," says Jonty Rhodes, the South African fielding coach.

"They were telling me about the airplane ride they had taken, they were very excited being on the airplane," all-rounder Shaun Pollock says.

More than 13 million people with HIV/AIDS are living in cricket-playing nations, and visits like these will be of big help.

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