KATHMANDU, Oct 29: The first ever womenÂ´s international blind cricket series in the world, held between Nepal and the United Kingdom, concluded in Kathmandu on Tuesday with a message that blind people can do â€œanythingâ€ if given an opportunity.
â€œBlindness is not a barrier. This series has proved that blindness only delays our progress but it doesnÂ´t stop us from achieving our goals,â€ said Major Pawan Ghimire, president of the Cricket Association of the Blind, Nepal, after the host team clean swept the three-match series with a perfect record of 3-0.
â€œThis tournament stands as a testimony that blind people can do anything if we are given an opportunity,â€ added the army officer, who has inspired countless people with his active involvement in promoting blind cricket since losing his eyesight in an ambush laid by the Maoists about a decade ago.
He hopes that the tournament will help change the perspectives of people.
It was Major Ghimire who took the initiative to form the first blind womenÂ´s cricket team in the world with the view that women should not be left out and that there should not be any kind of gender discrimination.
He recalls how his foreign counterparts, forerunners in the menÂ´s blind cricket, used to dissuade him of forming the womenÂ´s team when he set up both the teams in 2006.
â€œThey viewed the move as insignificant. But I wanted to give equal opportunity to both men and women. Now they have also started forming womenÂ´s team,â€ he added.
The most significant of all was the decision of a conservative Muslim country, Pakistan, to become the third country to form a blind womenÂ´s cricket team following the footsteps of Nepal and the UK.
Major Ghimire believes that the involvement of disabled people in sports helps in building their confidence.
Beth Evans, coach of the visiting UK team, shares similar views. Evans, who has been coaching the British blind womenÂ´s cricket team for the last four years, said that the game has been helpful in changing the lives of the visually impaired people.
â€œFour of our blind cricketers have got employment and two of them live on their own. This was possible only because of their belief in themselves. They have more self confidence now,â€ she told Republica.
â€œIt takes a while to believe,â€ she added.
John Brittain, chief of communications at UNICEF, Nepal, said while addressing the players that they did not let disability come in their way.
â€œI hope that this great achievement will take not just blind cricket to higher heights in the country, but also inspire other people, especially children with various other disabilities to take up sports as a means of self-expression as well as self-empowerment,â€ he said.
â€œThis tournament is one activity that can help to raise awareness toward building a more disabled-friendly Nepal,â€ he added.
NepalÂ´s prominent womenÂ´s rights activist and former Constituent Assembly member Sapana Malla Pradhan stressed on the need for womenÂ´s â€œright to equality, right to dignity and right to playâ€. She expressed sadness that none of the government officials were present during the tournament.
Applause for the British ambassador
Few months ago, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won the hearts of Nepali people while addressing his neighboring countrymen in local language. On Tuesday, it was the British ambassador to Nepal, Andy Sparkes, who got rapturous applause for addressing the blind cricketers in Nepali language.
He expressed his gratitude to the Nepali â€œsistersâ€ for giving an opportunity to their British counterparts to compete in the first ever womenÂ´s international blind cricket series in the world.
â€œThank you for starting this process of international cricket,â€ he said during the closing ceremony of the three-day series that concluded in Kathmandu on Tuesday.
â€œYou have given us a great opportunity,â€ he added in Nepali.
Nepal wins blind cricket series
Nepal clinched the title of the first ever International Blind WomenÂ´s T20 Series with a 3-0 win over the United Kingdom, following a crushing 10 wickets victory on the final day of the tournament on Tuesday. The UK won the toss and opted to bat first, scoring 102 runs at the cost of four wickets in allotted 20 overs. Mankeshi Choudhary and Nima BC led NepalÂ´s fightback as the host met the target of 103 runs in just 11 overs without losing a single wicket.
Mankeshi scored unbeaten 51 runs while Nima contributed 30 runs on the closing day of the three-match series held at the Pulchowk Engineering CollegeÂ´s cricket ground in Lalitpur.
Mankeshi was adjudged the player-of-the-series for her batting prowess after having also scored 77 runs on the second day of the series.
Nepal had won the first two matches by 167 runs and 93 runs respectively.
Source : My Republica