New Delhi, December 14: To promote visually impaired women cricketers and bring equality and parity, Cricket Association for Blind in India (CABI) will organise Blind Cricket Nationals for Women in association with Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled.
The organisers have roped in West Indies cricketing legend Brian Lara to promote the tournament named Samarthanam Women's National Cricket Tournament for Blind 2019.
The CABI also associated with India's star woman cricketer Smriti Mandhana for the cause. The CABI hopes to nurture the dreams and aspirations of talented women's cricketers and mould them into role models for the future generation.
"First of all, I am not blind and very grateful and blessed to be able to do all the things in my career. As this tournament is approaching, I feel very proud and humble in their presence of these ladies, CABI and Samarthanam Trust. This is wonderful and I have followed the exploits of Indian Men's Blind Cricket Team which have won world cups around the world and of course (read about the reports of) beating Pakistan several times. I want to wish the ladies and the organisers all the best for the tournament. I think it's a great initiative. India has wonderful Indian Women's Team and I remember their game against England in the final of the ICC World Cup 2017.
"This is an opportunity for the ladies who are visibly challenged to express themselves and I am almost sure, they did not pick up this sport yesterday. They'd have loved the game by listening to it on the radio. I think they can't wait to go out and play this game. I want to wish everybody all the very best involved in this tournament. I hope the media not just covers this press conference, but also covers them play. Such competitions will also provide a platform for these talented women and empower them," said the 50-year-old former Windies cricketer.
"Disability should not be considered a hindrance to achieving one's goals. I thoroughly appreciate this fantastic initiative taken by CABI and Samarthanam Trust in India and I am convinced that if such strong stakeholders come together around the world, then there is no reason why blind cricket will not see a growth world over," said the batting great.
The tournament will be held in T20 format between December 16 and December 19 in New Delhi. The CABI is also looking for support from BCCI and they have recently met BCCI President Sourav Ganguly and Joint Secretary Jayesh George in this regard.
When asked if Lara would talk to his old friend Ganguly, who is the new president of the BCCI, to extend his support towards blind cricket, the Trinidadian said, "I think Ganguly will help the organisation once they reach out to him."
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.
"We saw immense potential among the players not only sports-wise but also as a medium to empower them; give them a voice and a platform to express their talent. Since the discussions have been on there has been tremendous interest and spirit among the girls and I am confident that this Women's Nationals will go a long way in inspiring girls from across the nation," said Shailender Yadav, North Zone Secretary, Cricket Association for the Blind.
Having created a setup for the men's blind cricket in India and world over CABI now aims to look for every means to help women's cricket grow. For that, they are also looking out for women leaders from as many fields as possible who are passionate fans and can take women's cricket to even greater heights soon.