Recently, Goa witnessed the India-England-Sri Lanka Triangular Cricket series for the Blind at Goa Cricket Association, Porvorim. NT BUZZ spoke to the captain of Indian team, Ajay Reddy and secretary, Blind cricket Association of Goa, Yeshwant Nageshkar to understand how this will encourage Goa’s visually impaired
VENITA GOMES | NT BUZZ
Many might not be familiar what cricket for the blind is; but in recent years it has been gaining popularity through various initiatives and championships organised by Cricket Association for Blind in India (CABI).
And as a young boy, Yeshwant Nageshkar from Marcel always dreamt of wearing the Indian Blind Cricket Team cap but Goa did not have the required facilities until recently. Yeshwant did not give up; he pursued the sport and he now coaches Goa’s visually impaired in preparation to join the Indian team.
This version of the game is adapted for the blind and partially sighted players, and has been governed by the World Blind Cricket Council (WBCC) since 1996. Recently, the maiden triangular series between India, England and Sri Lanka was held at the Goa Cricket Association, Porvorim from October 8 to October 13.
When not occupied with his clerical job at a bank, Yeshwant Nageshkar channelises his passion for cricket by coaching the blind near his home in Marcel. “I have 10 to 12 blind cricketers coming every weekend to be coached. On Saturdays, I train them from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Two of my players are currently studying in Pune while at least two others cannot regularly come on weekends for practice due to work reasons,” the secretary, Blind cricket Association of Goa states.
Speaking about the current scenario in Goa, he says: “I used to like playing cricket but at that time there was no support. There was talent but there was no one to train me. Later, when I started with training I realised that there were no supporters or sponsors.”
He elaborates: “When we would request organisers, sponsors and authorities to hold tournaments or 20-20 they would often be reluctant to sponsor and support us; they would have a stereotypical mindset that we could not do anything.”
Yeshwant is quite determined and has faith that through his training at least one cricketer will represent Goa and play for team India.
He calls out to parents to enrol their children and encourage them in blind cricket as he believes that the future is bright for such sportspersons. He appeals to the government as well as laypeople to watch and support this sport as there is nothing that is impossible.
Ajay – Leading the team
Current captain of the Indian national blind cricket team, Ajay Reddy who lifted the 2017 Blind T20 World Cup and the 2018 Blind Cricket World Cup was down in Goa for the triangular series
Q: You have been the Indian national blind cricket team captain since 2016, how has the progress of your team been?
The progress has been quite good. During the camp we would discuss the strengths and weakness of the players and also try to sort a plan to work, to help the teammates overcome their weak points.
Q: How is this cricket series for the blind different from normal cricket?
There is a lot of difference but it is being played with the same kind of interest and passion. Cricketers get money but we hardly get any amount for the tournaments we play. This hasn’t de-motivated me but we are representing our India with the same spirit and enthusiasm.
Q: When it comes to training the visually impaired for cricket, how is it done? Is it difficult or easy and how do they manage to understand the game?
Blind cricket is a version of cricket adapted for the blind and partially sighted players. It is difficult. There are three components that are taken into consideration like fully blind (called B1 category), partially blind (called B2 category) and partially sighted (called B3 category) cricketers. For the B1 cricketers we need to train them from the basics like give them the directions, through touch and other gestures.
Q: What were some of the difficulties you faced when you got into cricket?
Cricket has always been my passion. I had to face a lot of financial issues. But as I got a job this burden was reduced. Apart from that there are other players who don’t get anything much and therefore, I would want the authorities to help them out.
Q: What is cricket to you?
It is a game of learning. I learn something new every day. My aim is to bring out the best in my players and also give my best. I am playing for the Indian team since 2010. In the year 2016, I was the captain for the Asia Cup that took place in India and I have played several other tournaments and championships.