Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the St. Lucia National Cricket Association (SLNCA) have responded positively to a request by the Saint Lucia Blind Welfare Association that will tap into the spirit of community and philanthropy of cricket lovers and fans, who will converge on the at the Daren Sammy Cricket Grounds in Beausejour, Gros Islet this weekend.
The donations of cricket patrons during the one – day international Match between England and West Indies, this weekend, will be used to support the Windward Islands’ participation in the annual West Indies Blind Cricket Tournament, slated for July 2019.
The Appeal to CWI and SLNCA was made by the Windward Islands Cricket and Sports Association of and for People with Impaired Vision (WICSAPIV) through the West Indies Cricket Council for the Blind (WICCB), the body responsible for Blind Cricket in the Caribbean.
Authorities of the sport of Blind Cricket have lamented that through the years, the Windward Blind Cricketers have been terribly disadvantaged when compared to their colleagues in other cricket playing Countries in the Caribbean. Consequently, WICSAPIV is struggling to provide opportunities for players with Impaired Vision to participate in various Regional and International Blind Cricket competitions.
In spite of great efforts, WICCB has not been able to secure sponsorship for this Sport from the Corporate Communities of the Region. The reason according to (WICCB Volunteer Director of Administration) Mr. Bhawani Persad is because: “Caribbean societies have yet to understand the real therapeutic value of this sport to the Rehabilitation process.” He opined that: “It is also imperative that relevant authorities appreciate the positive impact of Blind Cricket on the sighted population.”
President of St. Lucia Blind Welfare Association (SLBWA) Mr. Glen Simon stated that “As for me and thousands of citizens in the Cricket World who have been privileged to witness blind cricket matches, the effect is like an eye-opener which dispels the perception of “helplessness” that is traditionally associated with blindness.”
President of the WICCB, Mr. Anthony Avril, commented that: “Sports provides one of the most effective therapeutic tools for the rehabilitation process. Sports help to instill a sense of self-worth and empowerment”. He added, “As for us West Indians living with blindness and vision impairment, blind cricket does not only provide diversionary and therapeutic values to life, but also gives a sense of belonging and “inclusion.”
The SLBWA spearheads Blind Cricket activities in St. Lucia, for WICSAPIV and WICCB. However, the Association is experiencing extremely serious financial constraints and is counting on the generosity of cricket patrons come this weekend, to help sustain this valuable sport.