Cricket lights up visually impaired Nepali women

  • Cricket for Blind
- PRAJWAL OLI, Kathmandu

Nov 7, 2018-

Deprived of opportunity and recognition that an abled individual enjoys, some visually impaired Nepali women have found something to cherish by embracing cricket. Cricket has lighten up their life to some extent since taking to the field in 2006.

England, Australia, India and Pakistan among others had been playing Blind Cricket for Men long before Nepal formed its team in 2006. Nepal went one better by forming its women’s team as well. Founding president of Cricket Association of Blind (CAB) Pawan Ghimire, himself a visually impaired person, was instrumental in taking the initiation.

Apart from Nepal, only England and Pakistan women play Cricket for Blind. England visited Nepal for a bilateral cricket and the hosts won the 3-0 at the Pulchowk grounds in 2014.

“For the visually impaired women cricketers, the game has given social recognition and helped instil self confidence,” Ghimire, a former Nepal Army major who lost his eyesight in 2003 after being trapped in ambush laid by the-then Maoist insurgent. “The game has helped change perception of society towards the blind. Additionally, cricket has also allowed many visually impaired players earn academic scholarships, a remarkable achievement given that most of them were living a life of deprivation.”

CAN has only recently selected a 15-member Nepali team to prepare itself for a five-match Twenty20 series against hosts Pakistan on January 26-February 4.

A blind cricket team consists of three categories of players: B1, B2 and B3. B1 falls under totally blind category, B2 under partially blind and B3 under partially sighted. Playing XI is formed by including at least four B1 players and B3 not more than four. Remaining quota will be completed by B2 players.

The ball is significantly larger than a standard cricket ball and filled with ball-bearings to provide audible cues. The size allows players with limited sight to see the ball and the contents allow completely blind players to hear it.   

B3 player Bhagwati Bhattarai, a national team player, was simply happy to be able to make more friends playing cricket. Bhattarai, 27, said the game has enabled her to visit new places despite limited vision. Wicketkeeper Gita Paudel, another B3 category cricketer, says the game has brought happiness in her life. “The perception towards the visually impaired people has changed since women took to the sports,” said the 25-year old from Butwal.

Financial barrier has long been the stumbling block in CAB’s efforts to bring the game into mainstream sports. It has been the same case for the upcoming event as well. “We have approached the National Sports Council (NSC), various government and non-government organisations for financial support,” said Ghimire. “NSC is positive in helping us but has clearly said the amount won’t be big.”

Niroj Giri, the programme coordinator of the CAB, NSC provided them a grant of Rs 600,000 for a couple of years since 2016-2017. But the grant was stopped ever since after NSC formed its own Para National Games.

Published: 07-11-2018 09:00

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