It is almost three days since India retained the Blind Cricket World Cup, when it vanquished Pakistan in a dream championship clash that went the distance. In normal circumstances and given the rarity with which India achieves anything spectacular in team events, such magnificent showing should have sparked a frenzied celebration with all and sundry joining in and making it a nationwide spectacle.
But is it happening? Alas, the accomplishment has failed to inspire honourable gentlemen in the corridors of powers. Bar going overboard in showering praise on twitter, precious little has been done for the boys. It is a sad reflection of the times that for all the talk of ringing in a vibrant sports culture, the policymakers adopt a step-motherly attitude when it comes to rewarding achievers from less glamourous sections of society, even when they win global fame.
The double-speak stood exposed when Indians came up with several medals in the Paralympic Olympics at Sochi. Come to think of it, their feats were more incredible than what was brought home by PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and Dipa Karmakar.
It is the same fate that befalls players produced and protected by Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI). It is rather inhuman that neither the Sports Ministry nor the BCCI and not even a single corporate house has spoken about any rewards to these outstanding players, whose sole source of sustenance comes from Samarthanam Trust.
The Trust assists the CABI and physically and mentally challenged, with the support it gets from a few corporate partners. One hopes that the self-proclaiming corporate patrons should earmark some funds towards the promotion of CABI and all talented differently-abled sportspersons and artistes, at least as part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
There is no dearth of claims from corporate companies that they support the visually-challenged, disabled and underprivileged. No such things happen at the ground-level. One also fails to understand the way the BCCI and the Centre function when it comes to honouring champions.
Even a bronze finish in an international individual event gets a bountiful but there is none to offer anything of the sort, bar lip-service, to the young lions led by Ajay Kumar Reddy.
It is a strange irony that the Mithali Raj-led girls were accorded a royal treatment for ending up second best whereas here we have a team that consolidated its reign at the very top with a fine showing and they don’t even get peanuts! CABI President G Mahantesh was humility personified when seeking some land and infrastructural support for the players to hone their skills.
Incidentally, Pakistan Blind Cricket Council did well by inviting ICC boss David Richardson, Zaheer Abbas and Syed Kirmani to witness the finals. The difference in attitude and approach between the regulars and the visually-challenged cricketers comes from the emotional tribute paid by Ajay Reddy.
Many regular cricketers organised ‘fund raising’ exhibition matches (very few players contributed, though) for Kargil martyrs. Reddy touched every soul with his “we dedicate this victory to the Indian Army because they are working hard to ensure that the country’s common people remain safe.” #KhabarLive