In a bid to provide equal opportunity to visually impaired women, Cricket Association for Blind in India (CABI) has taken the initiative to organize Blind Cricket Nationals for Women in association with Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled. The first-ever T20 tournament for blind women, named Samarthanam Women’s National Cricket Tournament for Blind 2019, will be held from December 16-19 in New Delhi.
Former West Indies skipper and one of the all-time greats of the game Brian Lara and star Indian woman cricketer Smriti Mandhana has joined hands to promote the women’s national cricket tournament for blind.
Speaking during a press conference to announce the tournament dates and schedule, Lara said that he felt proud and humble to become part of the tournament, adding that “disability should not become a hindrance to achieving one's goals”.
"These ladies and their tournament that is approaching, I feel very proud and humble to be in their presence…. I think it’s a great initiative. India is a wonderful ladies team in the team…but this is an opportunity for the visually challenged ladies to express themselves," the 50-year-old former Caribbean legend said.
Seven teams representing the states of Delhi, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha & West Bengal will fight it out in the league stages over the first two days spread over three venues in Siri Fort Sports Complex, DDA Sports Complex in Saket and Jamia Milia University followed by the grand finale at Siri Fort Sports Complex on December 19.
"Women’s cricket was in the pipeline for the last 10 years as we believe they have equal rights to play. After Samarthanam was given full responsibility of CABI in 2010, we immediately started acting upon the idea and we are extremely proud that we could implement that dream finally," said Mahantesh G Kivadasannavar, Founder and Managing Trustee, Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled and President, CABI and also President of World Blind Cricket.
Of the seven teams, Delhi is considered strong contender for the title along with Odisha. With 60 girls having had the experience of playing for the state, out of which 16 have been selected to represent the team in the upcoming Nationals. Speaking to News Nation, Delhi skipper Ankitha said that this tournament was a very good opportunity for them and exuded confidence that her team will give 100 per cent.
"This tournament is very important for us. It’s a very good opportunity for us to take our cricketing career forward. We have been preparing for so many days, the hard work put in by our coaches and the management, we hope that would pay off," Ankitha said.