Blind women are now afforded the opportunity to join in the game and develop skills and abilities that before were only in their dreams. The women are fighting oppression and demonstrating strength that is amazing and inspiring!
In Nepal, there is a common superstition that if you are born with a disability it is a punishment for misdeeds in a past life, blindness is no exception and can be judged especially hard. Blind women have a particularly hard time surviving in such a harsh society. They are already viewed as second-class citizens just for being women and because of their disability, they often find themselves ostracized from their communities.
Pawan Acharya, 32-years-old, a major in the Nepalese army, found out how hard the blind had it when he became blind losing his own sight in an ambush by Maoist rebels during the country’s civil war. Now, ten years later, he is starting a movement to change the perceptions about disabilities in the his very traditional Hindu country. He has organized a series of cricket tournaments for blind players, including women. Now, women are getting the opportunity to shine by playing in what he claims is the world’s only national blind women’s cricket tournament.
“Cricket has transformed these girls. The way they interact with people and the confidence they have now is remarkable,” Pawan told reporters. “Before I lost my sight, I didn’t even think about the problems faced by blind people. But then I became involved and realized how strong the prejudices against disabled people were.”
He organized the first blind cricket tournament 2006 and introduced a separate tournament for blind women in 2009. Nepal’s Blind Cricket Association has 300 male players and 65 women members. They play with a special ball that contain iron ball bearings that rattle when the ball is thrown.
“I wanted to eliminate the social taboos surrounding blindness and help those affected to gain some independence,” he said. “Cricket gives them confidence, and is also a great way of developing mental skills.”