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. 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. 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. News Nation spoke to Ankitha, Captain, Delhi Blind Women's Team. Below are the excerpts of the interview:
NN Question: This is the first Women’s National Cricket Tournament for Blind. How do you see this tournament? How it can promote the women cricket for blind?
Ankhita: 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.
NN Question: A big name – Brian Lara – has associated with this tournament. How do you think Lara’s association would help you?
Ankitha: Association of Brian Lara is again a very big opportunity for us. In India, normal cricket has a huge fan base, but blind cricket is not followed by many. Neither many people take interest in it. Association of Brian Lara, fans of blind cricket will also increase. This is what we are hoping.
NN Question: Could you tell us a little about how you guys practice? What are the challenges you have to face?
Ankitha: Challenges…. Agr chah ho to kuchh bhi possible hai (If there is will, everything is possible.) This is how we are playing cricket. There are challenges behind everything, and we do face them. The biggest challenge is that we don’t have ground facilities. Cricket is not possible without ground and pitches. So, this is one problem we face. Another is, we have players from many professions. Some are working, some are school students, some are college students. So, we usually don’t get free at same time. So, we must choose a time when most of the girls can attend the practice.
NN Question: So, there is lack of infrastructure?
Ankitha: Yes, we don’t get grounds to play. The reason behind this is lack of awareness and also, people think how we will we play, if anyone got injured, they may get into trouble. Another issue is, as of now, only private companies support us. So, if we get help from government or the BCCI, it will help us a lot.
NN Question: What message you want to give to BCCI president Sourav Ganguly so that he takes a notice of women’s blind cricket?
Ankitha: My only request to BCCI, especially Sourav Ganguly is that sir, please pay a little attention to us too. The way you are promoting normal cricket, if we also get a little of your support, the challenges we face will come down to half. If BCCI supports us, we would be able to play more and more tournaments which will be good for our career and people would get to know our game. Our management would not have to struggle in order to find grounds for us.