The district witnessed the onset of two spectacular events - blind football and blind cricket - for the first time, and it has been nothing short of an exhilarating experience for all concerned.
The International Blind Football Federation had organized a two-day tournament of football and cricket that was held at the Tripunithura Palace Oval on December 2 and 3. There were a total of four teams - Trivandrum Thunders representing Thiruvananthapuram district, Kochi Scorpions, Calicut Hurricanes and Kannur Blissard appearing for Kochi, Kozhikode and Kannur respectively. Interestingly, like the Indian Premier League(IPL), each team comprised six players from other states, who had played at the national level.
Both the games were all about the sense of sound, as the players were visually impaired. They were guided only by the sound of jingles inside the ball.
“It was our first time ever playing in floodlights, and it is all about skill and technique, we are not playing by the rules. By supporting this blind football venture, the trusts are enabling the visually challenged to showcase their sporting talent. They are creating awareness about the challenges as well as the unique abilities of the differently abled. We have UST Global and Tripunithura Cricket Club backing us in this venture,” says Rajaneesh Henry, Secretary for Blind Cricket Association, India.
There are no huge dissimilarities between the ways blind cricket and blind football are played. Some basic tweaking has been effected in the way both the games are played to make the game accessible for the blind players. The 11 members of the cricket team were divided into totally blind and low vision categories. The totally blind members of the team are exempted from running between the wickets and keeping the wickets. When a totally blind person bats, a fellow team member who is of low vision category will run for him.
“The blind cricket players were extremely happy that they got this opportunity to show the world that their disability is not their weakness. All their families were quite afraid to send them out to play fearing they might get hurt, but the players have showcased immense courage, brotherhood and sportsman spirit. So many people were coming up to me to say how blessed they were to witness such an event.
I felt so happy for my players,” said Sunil J Mathew, Head coach for International Blind Football Federation, Kerala.
Both the games, blind football and blind cricket have been successful in finding a place in the hearts of millions of people who extended support to the players. Games for the blind are likely to scale great heights and venture into new arenas in the coming times.