Blind Cricket, maybe we reached a real breakthrough in inclusive sport

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A few weeks ago the major dailies were advertising a blind cricket match to be held over the week end. The advertisement was quite catchy and made in a quite professional way. On the bottom you could notice a quite long list of sponsors. For me all this was a real breakthrough for the following reasons:

Number one: for the first time, inclusive sport takes the headline and becomes mainstreamed

Number two: the event was not about man but women cricket

I went to the match and though there were not hundreds of people, undoubtedly the event, played in the central ground of Pulchock Engineering Campus, was a success in terms of turnout.

It was not the first blind cricket match I was assisting but the experience was quite different. In better, I mean.

What I liked most was the festive atmosphere with the mobilization of different social organizations showcasing their activities, few food stalls and even some spaces dedicated to the sponsors. It was a kind of festival, a sort of celebration.

From the advertisement till the logistics, you could see that there were professional hands at play working together with the Cricket Association of the Blind Nepal that deserves a big applause for being so successful in creating interest around inclusive sport. Pawan Ghimire, the current chair is doing an amazing job and he should have been recognized in the recent national sport awards.

Sport at the end of the day is not just a leisure activity but it is something with economic value. In short sport is also about business.

It is really welcome to notice that disability sport has become attractive and ‘cool” for private sector to invest into it.

To be honest the match also managed to attract significant attention from the private sector because it was basically one off event, a fundraiser to create awareness and fund more competitions in future. It was a kind of pilot of you like and with no doubts it was remarkable success.

Sport for inclusive development can be a real game changer in the way the society perceives disability. It can really become a platform to build new relationships between able and persons living with disabilities.

In the country there are quite a few NGOs actively promoting sport opportunities for people living with disabilities. They all deserve a moral boost, a big encouragement and hopefully private funding to scale up and reach a higher level of professionalism. Money is not everything; many activities can be run without grants and allowances and the donors’ dependency that has also affected the disability sector must be condemned and overcome, for good.

Yet financial resources certainly play a role if we want to really mainstream inclusive sport into the society.

Very encouragingly the corporate sector is realizing the importance of investing in disability. This is not only welcome but also desirable in order to diversify the traditional donors’ base that is too much reliant on traditional players like INGOs based in the country and overseas nonprofit active in the sector.

The disability movement must do its part to redouble its effort to reach out other stakeholders.

New partnerships must be created among different players from local not for profits, private houses and committed and passionate citizens.

The Government should also play a role but if the political culture of the country remains the same, so divisive so polarizing and with great room of improvement in terms of transparency and accountability, I am afraid that the non-state actors must take the lead.

We are starting with cricket, we can expend to other sports. After all disability sport is really cool. It is really an empowering and inclusive experience. Now we need to prove that it can also make business sense for the private sector to play a major role in it. And here i am not talking about Corporate Social Responsability only,

Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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