Cricket is religion in India but the Indian Blind Cricket Team has been continuing to suffer despite bringing so many laurels for the country, as they have not got any recognition and support from neither Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) nor the Sports Ministry.
Most of the players are unemployed, not receiving any recognition and salary from anyone, and continuously struggling to run their lives in the cricket-mad nation, where many become overnight millionaires just playing the IPL.
In the national Blind team –one is a singer, one works at a farm, another sells milk, but their poverty and struggle to run their life did not weaken their courage and determination to do good for the country.
But they are very sad with the pathetic attitude towards blind cricketers in the country, where every Indian cricketer, whether be it domestic or International enjoy larger than life status, and they have forced to hard work to run up to their livelihood, despite playing at international level.
In the last 59 months, the Indian Blind Cricket Team have won two T20 World Cup, two ODI World Cup, one Asia Cup and four bilateral series, and their latest biggest achievement is that they once again bring the Blind Cricket World Cup to the country after beating Pakistan in the final at the Sharjah Stadium on Saturday. There are total 12 out of 17 members of World Cup squad who do not have any permanent job and seven among them are married despite their on-field heroics. In spite of this, the players who are working have to lose their pay while repressing the country.
Indian all-rounder Ganesh Mundkar hailed from Valsad, Gujarat, who is an integral part of Team from 2014, has a small grocery shop and his parents work as labourers in a farm.
As per PTI, Mundkar said, “Family says that I should stop playing cricket but it is my passion. Gujarat government has promised me a job after WC win in 2014 and I am still waiting.”
Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh’s Prem Kumar, who is in the B1 category (complete blind), have to sing in the orchestra for livelihood, adding, “I get 1000-1500 for a programme and during Vinayak Chaturthi, I get around 10 shows while generally 2 or 3 shows in a month. It is not enough to run a family.”
Another all-rounder from Team –Anil Arya, who has eight members in the family, and the total income is Rs 12000 per month and his father is a laborer while he distributes milk for livelihood.
Arya told reporters, “I supply milk to households and I have to give the responsibility to someone else when I am playing. I have to be in touch with him on daily basis and can't focus on the game but don't have any other option.”
Andhra Pradesh’s Venkateshwar Rao, who is Blind Team’s Virat Kohli, is delaying his marriage as he does not have any permanent job to run a family, saying, “I am working as a physical education trainer on a contract basis. I used to earn Rs 5000 per month but now get Rs 14000. How would I run a family with this temporary job?”
Meanwhile, Blind Team’s skipper –Ajay Reddy said that blind cricketers also have the same passion like Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, but sports ministry and BCCI’s pathetic attitude towards them who are working hard in difficult conditions to bring laurels for the country is hurting the Team.
He further said, “We have the same passion like Kohli's and Dhonis but there is no recognition. Neither sports ministry nor BCCI recognize us which is pathetic.”
John David –Head coach of the Indian team and secretary general of CABI signed off by saying, “Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI) is not affiliated to BCCI, there is only token support from the government. Facilities, even a practice ground, are hard to get. We are worried about the future.”