Cricket: Inclusion and Diversity – A sport for All


Look the National Cricket Inclusion
Championships is in its third year it’s been in Geelong every year and we became
the first sport to bring these three divisions together under one umbrella
into one event and basically we have our best cricketers with intellectual
disability our best cricketers who are deaf and hearing-impaired and our best
blind or vision-impaired cricketers competing for their states at the
national carnival so it’s a wonderful event. The vision was to give the
opportunity to the players to showcase their skill and ability. A lot of times
people with a disability they’re known for their disability that’s what people
know them by, the deaf guy or the blind guy or the the the girl with the
intellectual disability but this actually turns that around and gives
them an opportunity to be known for their skill and their ability and to be
celebrated for that. So to be able to be part of a Cricket Australia event where we have our Cricket Australia media team, showcasing to everyone their skill and
ability. What they can actually do. It is a massive national initiative well like
Australia-wide, because it gives like 200 odd athletes,
the chance to do as I said to meet people and you know it has been a
competitive sort of environment and it’s a massive achievement for us and we’re
really looking forward to getting into it. To me, National Inclusion Championship
is I mean, it means so much to play for your state you know. But also showing
that we can play this fantastic game that and that it’s enjoyable by everyone
no matter what sort of challenges they’re face in life and you know
build those friendships and people who have those same sort of challenges and
you learn from each other and build on your experiences. For deaf people, the biggest barrier is communication. That’s why this event is critical. It’s barrier free.
Deaf people just mingle with each other. It’s a great social event and it’s nice and
competitive too. In the mainstream world deaf people can be very very isolated. Every day they run into communication barriers and difficulties. It’s real hard to
really be included in their mainstream community. Competitions like this one are
critical to our commitment. I used to play baseball when I was a kid but as my
eyesight got worse and worse I had to give it away because I just couldn’t
compete with my peers so I spent in two- three years not being involved in any
kind of team sport. I didn’t think you know sport was something of blind
people can do and then finding cricket and finally this adaption of it you know to
be able to be part of a team and contribute again as an equal and then to
be able to excel in the sport and represent both my state in my country,
it means a lot to be able to do that. It’s a really amazing event to be
around and seeing everyone playing a game that is a sport for all. One of the
things I like most about blind cricket in particular. It’s one of the few blind
sports that is pretty much just like regular cricket.There is very little change
but also really like team sports. I like working together with others. I think
it’s you know to me is better than, then working on your own. Yeah okay,
you can strive for your own personal goals but it’s working along with with
your teammates and building those connections and friendships. Yeah just being around my teammates that’s why I love cricket – is being around them. That’s it they’re everything to me So I sort of just accidentally found out
about the deaf cricket. So I would have been two years ago at my local club down
at Flinder’s. Cricket Victoria staff had a Christmas party and the coach at that
time then came up to get a drink. He was like, “Are you deaf?” and I thought
yeah so he was like “have you heard of Deaf Cricket?” I was like, “I’ve never heard of it”. I messaged that
coach, would have been like a month before the NCIC last year that was held in
Geelong and then just sort of came down, played fairly okay. Then was asked to go
for a training camp in Brisbane and then from there on I got picked into the
Australian team. It was not long got back from the tour of India. My first
time overseas, first time representing Australia and yeah it was just a really
humbling experience. Talking to the players who are here at the
championships and their families. What it’s done is created lifelong
opportunities and memories. I mean we’ve got players you get to do things that not
many people around the world get to do they travel the world.They’re growing
confidence because of that they can have incredible conversations are now going
to network of friends and you know there’s some players here that have
talked to us in the past about how, you know, during school they they were quite
isolated a lot of challenges and now they’ve got a global network of people
to lean on and to support them and and and just be great friends with them
through things like social media and catching up every year in Geelong. So it’s
just a wonderful thing for everyone. I think people are becoming more and
more aware of various inclusion programs so there’s been some great exposure for
safer blind cricket. And increasingly getting some media attention and events like
this certainly bring a lot of great media attention and give the broader
public the chance to see the fact that people with a range of disabilities and
particularly vision impairment have the opportunity to play cricket at a really
high level and to play under a really great format of the game. I started to get involved in deaf cricket, probably now 12 years ago supporting the deaf men’s team
in Victoria. As time went on. I thought well where are our women? Women are often
in a supporting role especially in terms of men.
I wanted women to have a go the difficulty was finding other women who had
the same experience as men in regards to playing cricket.
Really we don’t have that experience Whether it is with and a bowl and how to bat. We have to
establish this on our own really. How can we do that? How are we going to learn how to throw
properly? How are we going learn to pick up the bat and hit a technical shot. But
this is a fabulous start for us. In the future we see – the deaf women’s game is a
great example. We want to see that expand next year and have more teams and
hopefully have a division within this championships, not just within the deaf
division but blind and intellectual disability also and hopefully have
national teams for women as well. And probably the one thing that we are
missing in this tournament or one of the things is a physical disability team or
division. So it’ll be great in the future to have a physical disability division. Is it right for all of this. I commend Cricket Australia. I commend Geelong Council. Well done. It’s been
an absolute privilege to work in this position. I didn’t really have much idea
about disability cricket before I started. I made a lot of mistakes at the
start but through getting to know the guys and listening to the to the people
with disabilities, I think that’s really important to be able to listen to people
who have lived and experienced in the area and taking on their advice and and
really going with that and learning as I go.
It’s been an absolute privilege working with these people. For me, it’s it’s one of the things I’m
most proud off. To say that I work in cricket and I know, I encourage anyone
who works in Cricket Australia to make sure they get down to Geelong for a day
because the spirit of these matches are played in and the level of passion and
as I just sort of spoke about as well the impact it has on some of the
families of those who do participate. You can’t help but come here and just have a
ripping time and you know get a smile on your face and just see some really
really high-quality cricket. I think that’s the other other thing that often
doesn’t get talked about is the level of cricket played here is outstanding and
you know there’s some of the best blind cricketers in the world as well in the
blind division and just a genuinely good great cricketers in the other two
divisions as well. So it is a great event!

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