Gurugram (Haryana) [India], December 5 (ANI): World Cup-winning India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh lauded blind cricketers on Monday, calling them 'real-life heroes' while urging governments and corporates to come forward and support sports for the blind.
The 3rd T20 World Cup for the Blind, was officially inaugurated here at the Tau Devi Lal stadium, in the presence of Sandeep Singh, Minister for Sports & Youth Affairs, Government of Haryana, Dr Mahantesh G Kivadasannavar, President of the Cricket Association of the Blind in India (CABI), Yuvraj, who is also the brand ambassador for the event, Raymond Moxley, secretary general, World Blind Cricket Ltd. (WBC) and Swami Nirbhayanda Saraswati, president, Ramakrishna Vivekananda Ashrama, Gadag and Bijapur, Karnataka, among others.
The former India all-rounder was quoted as saying in a CABI release, "When CABI first approached me, the first thought that came to my mind was that even when I was half-awake during my active playing days, I would not dare to face a ball, then how do these cricketers do it. They are real-life heroes. I feel blessed and honoured to be amongst them and as brand ambassador I call upon more and more corporates, the government, the public and the media to come forward and support these passionate cricketers. On my part, I pledge to do whatever is in my power to support Cricket for the Blind. I wish all the participating teams, the very best of luck."
A heartwarming invocation song and a musical medley was performed by Sunadha, the cultural wing of Samarthanam which comprises visually-impaired and speech and hearing-impaired artistes. Also among the dignitaries was special guest, popular Kannada actor Harshika Poonacha.
Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled has been championing the cause of Cricket for the Blind, since 2010-'11. Seven countries -- Australia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka and hosts and two-time defending champions India -- will feature in the 11-day 24-match schedule that has been drawn up for the event. Besides Delhi/NCR, India's matches will be played in cities like Indore in Madhya Pradesh, Kochi in Kerala, Cuttack in Odisha and Panjim in Goa.
The semifinals and the grand final will be hosted by Bengaluru.
While the Ajay Reddy-captained India take on Nepal in the first game at Faridabad's Sledge Hammer ground on Tuesday, December 6, 2022, the big India-Pakistan clash is slated to take place a day later at the DDA Siri Fort Sports Complex in the national capital subject to their visa process.
Speaking on occasion, Sandeep Singh, minister for Sports & Youth Affairs, Haryana, said, "It gives me great pleasure to be here today on the occasion of the inauguration of the 3rd T20 World Cup for the Blind. We welcome all the international teams and promise to make their stay in India a pleasant experience. We as a state are committed to supporting both abled and specially abled sports persons and we are in the process of developing a stadium specifically for the specially abled in Gurugram and Faridabad. I look forward to be present for the first game between India and Nepal at Faridabad tomorrow and also extend all support needed for the Cricket Association for Blind in India."
Welcoming all the dignitaries, Dr Mahantesh G Kivadasannavar, president of CABI, said, "During the years of the pandemic, we used to get the feeling that darkness has doubled down on us. But here we are at last, back to doing what we do best and that is to play Cricket. On behalf of CABI, I extend my sincere gratitude towards the ministers who have encouraged and supported us. Also, to the vibrant Yuvraj Singh who has shown us that his heart is even bigger than the sixes he hit, and to all the members of the visiting teams. We all at CABI are very excited as we lead up to the first match and we call upon all, including the national media to support our extremely talented Blind cricketers wholeheartedly."
The World Blind Cricket Council, established in 1996, is the global administrative board for blind cricket. It promotes and controls blind cricket globally. The World Cup is an initiative of the Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI), in association with Samarthanam Trust, for the disabled, who have been organising this championship since 2012. Samarthanam perceives sports as a medium to improve inclusion and encourage persons with disabilities on various fronts. Since its inception, the trust has reached out to more than 30,000 visually impaired crickets.
The 3rd T20 World Cup Cricket Tournament for the Blind from December 6 to December 17 2022, is also being organized to mark the World Disability Day celebrations universally. (ANI)