Sandra sparkles as India strikes gold at International blind cricket in England
Close on the heels of Minnu Mani making Kerala proud, the state got another reason to celebrate. Among the victors was 22-year-old Sandra Davis K, hailing from Thrissur.
KOCHI: It was a joyous moment for India at the Edgbaston Stadium in Birmingham. As the national flag fluttered high, an excited group of women in blue huddled to celebrate the history they scripted. Beating Australia, the Indian women’s blind cricket team won the gold medal at the International Blind Sports Association (IBSA) World Games 2023 held recently in England. The 16-member squad showed exemplary performance and emerged victorious in the maiden cricket championship at the event.
Close on the heels of Minnu Mani making Kerala proud, the state has another reason to celebrate. Among the victors was 22-year-old Sandra Davis K, hailing from Thrissur. “I conceded 11 runs in 2 overs and took one wicket,” gushes Sandra, who has only 20 per cent vision. A second-year BA student of NSS Training College in Ottappalam, Sandra says the experience of playing at the highest level against the likes of England and Australia was surreal.
“Moreover, being on the field graced by legends such as Sachin Tendulkar and M S Dhoni was a dream come true for all of us,” she adds. “When we won the match, there were quite a number of Malayalis in the gallery, and all of them gathered and cheered us. It was a moment of pride to receive the medal when the national anthem played in the background. That was when the idea of representing our nation got really drilled in.”
Upon returning to India, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani gave the team and coach Kratika Charvey a reception at her office and gifted them the `75 silver coins as mementoes.
Sandra, who is the captain of the Kerala blind women’s team, hopes the win motivates more visually impaired people to take up sports.
“I was determined to become a sportsperson from a young age,” she says, recalling her journey. “It all started after playing with a group of boys while studying at the School for the Blind in Aluva, Ernakulam. I was adamant about venturing into sports. I wanted to defy the notion that the blind were capable of pursuing only arts.”
Sandra says the turning point in her life was getting to train with the Cricket Association for the Blind in Kerala (CAB) in Aluva in 2019. “That’s when CAB started the women’s team. Initially, there were just six of us. Gradually, the number rose to 14,” she recalls. “Visually impaired women’s participation in other states is relatively higher. In Kerala, the majority of parents are hesitant to let their children play tournaments. There are some who do not want people to know that their child is blind. Such hesitancy has affected the confidence of many. I hope Team India’s world exposure will benefit more people.”
Rajanish Henry, vice-president of the World Blind Cricket Council and chairman of CAB Kerala, is upbeat about the future. “The Kerala team has 26 visually impaired women. There is growth, though lower than blind men’s cricket, which has been thriving for a decade now,” he notes. “The association’s primary aim is to empower the players. We expect the IBSA Games victory to help them obtain a space in the professional sphere and attract sponsorships”