Dubai: Kerala is among the many states in India severely hit by the coronavirus meance - striking the daily wage-earning workers very hard. Among them are Kerala’s blind cricketers, many of whom actually earned their livelihood by selling lottery tickets and vegetables.
Before the pandemic hit the state, these blind players had to battle every day to earn their living but they could take their time off for cricket training and playing matches. The Cricket Association for the Blind in Kerala (CABK) promoted the game among the blind in Kerala by arranging all facilities but currently, this association is stretched to support their cricketers who have been deprived of their daily earnings under the lockdown.
Speaking to Gulf News from Kerala, Rajaneesh Henry, General Secretary of CABK, explained the struggle of the blind cricketers and their association’s efforts to support them. “Many cricketers used to earn their daily wages by selling lottery tickets and vegetables but the lockdown had put an end to their source of income. We are trying our best to help them. Many blind cricketers have managed to get regular income jobs but those hit hard are the daily wage earners and those have applied for jobs and are waiting for a call. We are also out to help blind students, many of them who hail from very poor families.”
Many incidents of blind cricketers borrowing money to buy essential stuff have reached the association. “We were in talks with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) for support before the COVID-19 pandemic. I had met Sourav Ganguly, President of the BCCI, during a blind cricket tournament in Kolkata and he was very responsive to our efforts. Jayesh George of Kerala Cricket Association, who is now the Joint Secretary of the BCCI, has always helped us with infrastructure. We are hopeful that they may support us in the near future. We do get a state government annual grant of Rs 10 lakhs (Dh 48,000 approx) for our basic needs,” said Henry, who himself is blind and has been a huge promoter of blind cricket for many years.
“We have identified 50 men and women cricketers who are struggling. We plan to provide them income for the next few months. We have our WhatsApp group, and since we are blind we use the talkback android app facility to interact with each other. The screen-reading voice facility has helped all of us to listen to the messages of those who respond to our plight,” noted Henry.