CHENNAI: Arun has had speech and hearing disability since he was born. But, the 15-year-old from Dr MGR Home and Higher Secondary School for the speech and hearing impaired, today is acclaimed for bagging two ‘man of the match’ awards, after competing with boys from ‘regular schools’, in cricket. Thanks to the Rotary Club of Madras Midtown (RCMM) that had set up a cricket training facility, for children like Arun, in his own school ground, in MGR Gardens, Ramavaram, Poonamalee road.
“Though we started conducting cricket coaching sessions, the school didn’t have the facility to train the boys properly”. shares Usha Kumar, president, RCMM. After two years of training students, the club decided to set up a facility for a better learning experience. “We decided to make a proper pitch, set up nets and also provide the boys with equipment’s that are necessary for training and to play a game,” explains Usha.
The cricket facility on campus was inaugurated on August 5 and has opened to training every weekend. Shankar Duraiswami, another Rotarian, who has been administering the three-year cricket journey of the boys from the school, says that he is elated by their growth. “In our constant look out to empower children with disabilities, we joined hands with MGR home, run by another Rotarian - Latha,” he narrates, “When we decided to do something for the children here in the campus, we noticed that despite having a big ground, the children were running around without any focus.
We wanted to give them constructive training in sports and that’s when we decided to train them in cricket,” he shares. He also added that currently the facilities are open to only students from the campus.If more staff/coaches are willing to train,it is more likely that the facilities will expand and they are also looking to focus on the girls from the school and train them in other sports.
Roping in coach VN Suresh, who is known for training cricketers including Dinesh Karthik, the Rotarians of RCMM began work three years ago. “He offered to teach these children and we are thankful to him,” says Shankar.
What started as a basic training with a tennis ball and a bat, with a ground that was manually levelled for practice, the boys along with Suresh began to understand their abilities and limitations.
Suresh says that he has learnt a lot about them and himself. “I don’t use any special methods in teaching them. In fact, I find that their concentration level is more! I just take help from the teachers to communicate in sign language…these teachers play some decent cricket and are with us throughout the practice sessions,” he explains.
“Many might ask what’s so great about it. But, for children who didn’t have access to any of the gears, equipment and practise nets to improve their game, a transition from tennis ball to a cricket ball is a huge feat. We have just given them the platform to develop…what they become with what we give is because of their hard work and interest,” Shankar adds.