'We want to be tax-paying citizens'

‘Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all’ is the theme for this year’s International Day of People with Disability which was observed on Monday.

What better way to appreciate that theme than through cricket?

Even though the Central College Grounds was doused in euphoria as India ran riot against England on Day Two of the T20 World Cup for the Blind, the significance of what this day meant to the 22 players on the field and millions worldwide was not forgotten.

“We are not asking for sympathy. We are just asking for equal opportunity,” remarked Samarthanam Trust co-founder and former Indian blind cricketer Nagesh.

“Our goal is to become tax-paying citizens of the nation and not a liability.”

Medium of change

Vice-president of the World Blind Cricket Council (WBCC) Mahantesh was of the same opinion.

“We are using cricket as a medium towards bigger things. Our objective is to make every visually impaired person independent and self-reliant. This is a day of celebration and is also a day to showcase our ability,” said the former cricketer.

The players, who were caught up in the competition, too were aware of what it would take from them to become equals in society.

After the match between India and England ended in a comfortable victory for the hosts, India skipper Shekar Naik was not only happy for they had won two out of their two matches so far, he was also ecstatic that a day was celebrated to honour him and his fellow-mates.

“This is a big day for all of us,” said Naik. “We are subjected to a lot on a day-to-day basis and when we get noticed it is a very nice feeling.”

Affiliation to ICC

There was, however, one thing that continued to trouble the Indian players and officials on a day meant for equality.

WBCC’s continued effort to get affiliation from the International Cricket Council (ICC) has once again fallen on deaf ears of the world cricket body. While England, Australia and South Africa have backing from their respective associations, which also handle able-bodied cricket, the Board of Control for Cricket in India refuse to heed WBCC’s plea for help.

“If we can get ICC’s backing, then things will become easy for us,” said Nagesh.
“We have taken this up with the BCCI as well and they too have not responded positively. We will not give up. We will continue to pursue that goal and hope for the best.”

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