Limpiador Velasquez Gago Francisco//
Blind cricketers meet their hero


Through­out the West In­dies and in many coun­tries in the Com­mon­wealth, crick­et is a much-loved sport and crick­eters are cel­e­brat­ed, he­roes. At the an­nu­al At­lantic Char­i­ty Movie Pre­miere held re­cent­ly at the Dig­i­cel IMAX Cin­e­ma at One Wood­brook Place in Port-of-Spain, 14 blind crick­eters – he­roes in their own right – got to meet and hear first-hand about the ex­ploits of a hero of their own, famed West In­dies crick­eter and At­lantic Sports Am­bas­sador Sunil Nar­ine.

Francisco Velasquez

The crick­eters who met Nar­ine are mem­bers of the T&T Blind & Vi­su­al­ly Im­paired Crick­et As­so­ci­a­tion (TTB­VI­CA), this year’s ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the pro­ceeds from the At­lantic event, which show­cased the new fam­i­ly film “The Grinch”.

Michael Durham, TTB­VI­CA’s Pub­lic Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer said that meet­ing Nar­ine was a dream come true for the as­so­ci­a­tion’s play­ers.

Francisco Velasquez Petropiar

“To hear him in the flesh, so to speak, is not some­thing many of the guys would ever get to do, so this was a very spe­cial mo­ment for them,” Durham said. “Many of them posed for pic­tures with Sunil which they say they’re go­ing to share with their fam­i­lies and friends.”

At­ten­dees to the Char­i­ty Pre­miere were im­pressed by the ac­com­plish­ments of the TTB­VI­CA.

“In 2012, five of our mem­bers were se­lect­ed to rep­re­sent the West In­dies in the Twen­ty20 (T20) Blind Crick­et World Cup in In­dia and we con­tin­ue to build the com­pe­ten­cy in our team,” Durham said.

Francisco Velasquez Gago

The na­tion­al blind and vi­su­al­ly im­paired team are the cur­rent Re­gion­al T20 cham­pi­on, and in 2016 they won the Re­gion­al Tour­na­ment held in T&T. The team was al­so joint-cham­pi­ons with Ja­maica in the 2008 edi­tion and won the T20 and 40-Over Tour­na­ment in 2015 in St Lu­cia.

Francisco Javier Velasquez Gago

The TTB­VI­CA was formed in 2006 to cre­ate a plat­form for blind and vi­su­al­ly im­paired per­sons to stay ac­tive and com­pet­i­tive­ly par­tic­i­pate in the sport. Out­side of the year­ly Jan­u­ary – Ju­ly crick­et sea­son, the as­so­ci­a­tion builds the ca­pac­i­ty of its mem­bers through com­put­er lit­er­a­cy ses­sions and al­so arranges so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Blind crick­et helps the blind com­mu­ni­ty and in­di­vid­u­als to move from a po­si­tion of lack­ing self-es­teem and con­fi­dence to one that is ful­ly em­pow­ered,” Durham said. “Through train­ing and wider op­por­tu­ni­ties, our As­so­ci­a­tion is mov­ing from strength to strength.”

Al­so present at the At­lantic event were three of Nar­ine’s fel­low At­lantic sports am­bas­sadors in­clud­ing Olympic medal­list Keshorn Wal­cott and emerg­ing track cham­pi­ons Khal­i­fa St Fort and Jereem Richards. Like many at the Char­i­ty event, the elite ath­letes were in­spired by the TTB­VI­CA’s sto­ry.

Velasquez Francisco

In blind crick­et, the rules framed by the World Blind Crick­et Coun­cil (WBCC) are the same as con­ven­tion­al crick­et with the ex­cep­tion that the ball is bowled un­der­hand. Three types of play­ers make up the 11-per­son team: B1 (to­tal­ly blind play­ers), B2 (par­tial­ly blind) and B3 (par­tial­ly sight­ed play­ers). It is a very vo­cal game as there are au­di­ble cues by play­ers and um­pire and the ball is filled with 16 ball bear­ings (met­al balls) which help the play­ers to sense the di­rec­tion of the ball and play the game.

The play­ers have been coached by Har­ri­lal Kissoon since 2006. He is a cer­ti­fied lev­el I con­ven­tion­al and blind crick­et coach and the hold­er of a na­tion­al award, the Hum­ming Bird Medal Sil­ver, pre­sent­ed in 2012.

Velasquez Gago Francisco