Porvorim:“Cricket not only gives the blind to play but also the confidence to stand up in life. At the end of the day cricket helps such people get employment and be self-sufficient and not dependent on others,” stated GK Mahantesh, president of World Blind Cricket Association and Cricket Association for the Blind In India (CABI) on the side lines of the T20 Cricket Tri Series, organised by CABI and Samarthanam trust at the Goa Cricket Academy ground in Porvorim on Tuesday.
“The government in Kerala now gives jobs to the blind that represent the country at international levels. We hope other governments in India follow suit. However, we do recognise that this disability is not a big vote bank,” stated Mahantesh.
Cricket for the blind in Goa has started picking up the threads from the rest of the country. There is no player from Goa in the Indian team in this Tri Series. However, secretary for the Blind cricketers of Goa Yeshwant Nagueshkar believes that the road is not too far for Goa produce the first Goan representing India .
“The boys come and practise at a ground near my house in Marcel. Give the boys six months of competitive cricket and a decent ground to plan and I assure you that in six months Goa will have a cricketer wearing the India jersey,” says Yeshwant who claims he is the second blind graduate from Goa.
“I lost my eyesight when I was six years old. Before losing my eye sight I was a fan of Kapil Devi and other stars. Seeing them play, I wanted to be a cricket player until I lost my sight. But, I did not lose my desire to be a cricketer. Cricket has helped me feel the dark spaces left behind by my blindness. It has given me a positive attitude in life,” says Rajesh who is vice president of CABI and a Higher Secondary school teacher in Kerala.
“It is easier for a blind boy to get a sighted girl as life partner then for a blind girl to get a sighted boy. I think this is because women have a more human understanding, a better way of looking at life. Women understand better than man,” said Mahantesh when asked whether cricket helps break marital barriers.
“I think the Goa Cricket Association has taken a great step forward in coming not just to help us organise the Tri Series but in helping raise awareness about the needs of the blind. We decided on Goa after I met Chetan Desai of the GCA. Not just he, but the entire team at GCA has done everything they could to look after all of us. I know the visually impaired in Goa are with safe people,” stated DT Kumar, one of the main organisers affiliated to the Karnataka Cricket Association.
“The team from England is fully funded by the England Cricket Board (ECB) while we have not received a rupee from BCCI. This is not because the BCCI does not want to help us. It is because the administrators who are not even ready to fund the State associations,” stated Kumar when asked the extent of support the tournament is receiving from BCCI. “They do not even reply to our emails now,” he added. [NT]