Organisers of blind cricket see positives with recruitment drive in central Jamaica


Organisers of blind cricket see positives with recruitment drive in central Jamaica

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Organisers of blind cricket who are currently on a major recruitment drive in central Jamaica, are voicing satisfaction with results so far.

Following a cocktail reception at Neil's Auditorium in Mandeville last Friday night, Coordinator for the Middlesex Region, Steve Ashman, was very pleased.

“I have to say we are making good progress in the recruitment drive — progress to the point where at the reception we had people making financial and other pledges of assistance,” he said.

He identified the Lions Club of Mandeville as one organisation which had pledged to assist with tests for visually impaired people aspiring to play cricket.

The Lions Club was represented by its President Lindel Smith.

Dr Khohane Blake, from the eye clinic at Mandeville Regional Hospital who is an ongoing partner in relation to visual tests, was among those addressing the function.

Visually impaired cricketers are grouped in categories ranging from totally blind to partially blind and there are rules governing how many of each should be part of a team at any one time.

Ashman said Member of Parliament for Manchester Central Peter Bunting (People's National Party, [PNP]) was among those who made pledges. “The MP said he would make a personal contribution,” Ashman said.

There was support from both political sides. Richard Delapenha, losing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidate in the Royal Flat Division of Manchester in the last local government election represented the JLP and addressed the function.

Carl Grant, manager at JPS & Partners Cooperative Credit Union, pledged assistance and other expressions of support came from financial and business houses, Ashman said.

Friday's reception was followed on Saturday by a demonstration game involving visually impaired cricketers at Hanbury community field. The cricketers were met in Hanbury by Mayor of Mandeville Donovan Mitchell (Councillor for the Royal Flat Division, PNP).

Blind cricketers bat, bowl and field by tracking a rattling sound to locate the ball which is made of hard plastic with metal bearings inside.

Among the more noticeable differences with conventional cricket is that the ball is bowled underarm.

West Indies blind and visually impaired cricketers including Jamaicans have played in tournaments around the globe in recent years.

Deamon McLean, general secretary of the Jamaica Visually Impaired Cricket Association [JAVICA] told his audience at Friday night's function that blind cricket had helped to uplift lives.

He said many had benefited academically as a result of scholarships with nine players attending The University of the West Indies and The Mico University College, completing first degrees.

Two have completed postgraduate studies, he said.

However, “despite the many achievements, a lot of work is still needed to be done to have blind cricket on par with that of other international countries; and through your anticipated sponsorships and assistance it is possible,” McLean said.

Ashman told the Jamaica Observer that in addition to the Middlesex region, the blind cricket recruitment drive will soon be extended to western Jamaica.

Currently, the majority of blind and visually impaired cricketers are based in Kingston.

— Garfield Myers

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