On the day, Katie cherished witnessing the first ever cricket game played at a representative level for women who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing as well as learning all about Blind Cricket, their history and their goals from Chairman, Raymond Moxly.
Blind Cricket was invented in Melbourne, Australia in 1922 by wounded servicemen returning from World War 1. Now, nearly 100 years on, Blind Cricket is played by 70,000 people around the globe. However, it’s not the 5 ODI World Cups, 2 T20 World Cups or numerous bilateral series played by Australia with old rivals, England, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies or New Zealand that defines the sport here, it’s the mentoring and lifelong friendships that have been developed through playing the sport with people who share a similar life experience that is at the cornerstone of its continued success.
“I was introduced to Blind Cricket when I was 14. Three Blind Cricketers from the Queensland Blind Cricket Association visited my school in the hope that they could get some new recruits for their junior cricket program, now 32 years later, I find myself doing the same thing. At that first school visit I didn’t understand what Blind Cricket was or how I could possibly play it. I’d tried cricket but had given it up before I was 10 because the ball was travelling too fast for me to see it, I couldn’t imagine how Blind Cricket could be any different. I’m so glad I took the plunge and gave it a go. Through Blind Cricket I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the world with the Australian Team with some highlights including playing in Barbados, England and South Africa. As I come to the end of my playing career, I think the greatest highlight is having developed lifelong friendships with people all over the globe, people just like me. Being able to compete in a sport as an equal has given me a real feeling of self-worth and that’s why I volunteer to deliver junior programs, I want the next generation of kids to be given the same opportunity.
The attraction of playing Blind Cricket was more about me being able to compete in an outdoor team sport on a level playing field against my friends rather than have everyone try to make a concession in regular sport so that I could participate. Don’t misunderstand what the sport is though, it’s not a dumbed down version of cricket for poor blind people, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. At the elite level bowlers’ deliveries have been clocked at over 100kph and batsmen have scored double hundreds, there are spectacular catches taken and masterful runouts effected, all of the elements you’d expect to see in an elite sport. At the local level it’s all about kids being able to fully participate in a sport and not feel different to everyone else.”
Through the work Blind Cricket Australia is doing with Cricket Australia and its state affiliates, the National Woolworths Blaster programs have been adapted to allow Blind and Vision Impaired kids to have a similar experience to their sighted friends. These programs currently run in Queensland and South Australia and it is planned that all the other states will adopt the Woolworths Blaster program into their junior Blind Cricket coaching program from next summer.
Blind Cricket Australia’s partnership with Cricket Australia extends far beyond grassroots coaching though. 3 years ago, Cricket Australia took over the running of the National Championships. Cricket Australia brought the Vision Impaired, Deaf and Intellectually Disabled National Championships under the one banner and this has enabled them to use corporate partnerships to make participation a very low-cost proposition for participants. Under this partnership, the 37th Blind Cricket National Championships were recently played in Geelong and participants paid only a few hundred dollars to attend for the week. Further, Cricket Australia now controls the running of the Australian Blind Cricket Team and they cover the full cost of participation at training camps and International Competitions, that’s a first for disability sport in Australia. This partnership has allowed Blind Cricketers to participate without a financial burden.
If you are interested in participating in Blind Cricket please contact your state Blind Cricket Association, follow Blind Cricket Australia on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
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