It’s fair to say almost every parent just wants what is best for their child – for them to be happy, healthy and to live their best lives. For most Aussies, a happy and healthy childhood usually involves sport but what if your child’s sporting options are limited because of disability?
Thankfully, most sporting associations across Australia are developing new pathways for children with a disability to become involved. This includes the Victorian Blind Cricket Association’s Blasters program – a six-week cricket skills development course for children with vision impairment.
The program is designed to teach kids the basics of Blind Cricket – which is played just like normal cricket but it’s played with a ball which makes sounds. As well, in Blind Cricket the ball is bowled underarm and must bounce twice, so it can be heard, before it reaches the bat.
As well as getting the kids involved in a sport, the Blind Cricket games have the added advantage of helping boost kids’ confidence, along with their physical capabilities. It’s become increasingly popular as both a national and international sport and it means all kids – including those with a vision impairment – can aspire to one day playing cricket for Australia.
Travis Zimmer grew up playing lots of sports
Like most Aussie kids, Travis Zimmer grew up playing lots of sports including cricket, tennis, athletics and football. But when he started having vision problems in his teens, he quit team sports – in part because he didn’t want to let his teammates down.
Now aged in his 40s, Travis has rekindled his love of sport through Blind Cricket, which he says makes him feel like a kid again: “Blind cricket is one of the best things I have ever done,” he said.
“It is inclusive, there is no judgment and it has brought so much happiness to me and a sense of worth in sport,” he added.
“I withdrew from team sports because I didn’t want to let people down because of my vision impairment. Now I want to grow this great sport so more people feel like they can play,” Travis said.
Travis continues, saying Blind Cricket is not just about sports — it also helps children with a vision impairment by improving their physical fitness, improving their confidence and boosting their social skills and teamwork. Basically it’s a lot of fun for everyone involved.
Blind Cricket is popular worldwide
Blind Cricket is played throughout the world, especially in cricket-mad India where more than 25,000 people with a vision impairment play the sport.
There’s also a national competition in Australia. The Victorian Blind Cricket Team, with the help of its new sponsor 13cabs, is already gearing up for the next National Cricket Inclusion Championships against its interstate rivals.
National disability taxi service 13cabs is excited to sponsor this season’s Victorian Blind Cricket Association, as the Victorian squad prepares to take on NSW and Queensland. 13cabs’ NDIS-trained drivers are specialists in assisting blind passengers and the fleet also includes wheelchair accessible taxis. You can see more on their website here.
Victorian Blind Cricket Association runs social cricket events as well
As well as the Blind Cricket Blasters Program, the Victorian Blind Cricket Association runs social cricket events as well. Travis is now the Victorian Blind Cricket Association’s community engagement officer and he said he’s keen to see more people of all ages, including children, learning how to play Blind Cricket. People are allowed to join in with varying degrees of vision impairment.
“Our focus is to develop pathways for young kids to play sport,” he said, “especially Blind Cricket through the Blasters program and then hopefully go on to play for a team in the VBCA competition – or potentially represent Victoria at the National Cricket Inclusion Carnival, or even ultimately play for Australia at a World Cup and Blind Ashes.”
Blind Cricket was first played in Victoria in 1922, when some vision impaired cricket enthusiasts decided to have a bash with some rocks in a tin can. Early audible balls were made of wound cane filled with lead and bottle tops, as the sport progressed into a national competition.
The Victorian Blind Cricket Association is holding an open day to celebrate the 99th anniversary of blind cricket in Victoria and it encourages more people – both children and adults – into the sport. The Open Day will be held on November 27th at Kooyong, Melbourne, Victoria.
To find out more about the Open Day, visit here.
For more from The Carousel on sport and cricket, take a look here.