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DNA Exclusive: In COVID times, Cricket Association of Blind (CABI) shows light of positivity

The Cricket Association of the Blind (CABI) has been impacted severely by COVID-19 but through sheer determination and positivity, they have managed to help people even in tough times.

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DNA Exclusive: In COVID times, Cricket Association of Blind (CABI) shows light of positivity
Aswini Sahoo, CEO of Blind Cricket about what CABI (Cricket Association of Blind in India)
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The Indian national cricket team has won four consecutive World Cups from 2012 to 2018. Hang on! Have we gotten our statistics wrong about the Indian cricket team? No, the statistics are not wrong. The Indian national cricket team has won four consecutive World Cups (two T20s and two ODI World Cups) from 2012. The only difference is this is the Indian National Blind Cricket Team. While our major Indian cricket team gears up for the IPL and is constantly in the media spotlight, there is another champion Indian cricket team who are away from the limelight and fighting their own battle during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Their help on the ground has been largely ignored by most media outlets. They have taken a massive hit financially due to the coronavirus pandemic. Yet, the blind cricketers along with their cricketing body CABI (Cricket Association of the Blind in India) have carried on with tremendous positivity in these unprecedented times.

One man has been aware of the work that CABI has done in these last four months. He recently won the Man of Excellence-Year Award in 2020 by the India Achievers Forum (IFA) in recognition of his outstanding professional achievements and social contribution. His name is Aswini Sahoo, the CEO of World Blind Cricket. He also held a position as Director of International Development for two years with an International NGO Samarthanam Trust, the organization behind CABI through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Program.

Sahoo has been associated with the philanthropic activities of Samarthanam and has experienced first-hand the positivity and the desire of CABI to be positive against the odds and despite the lack of coverage to send across the broader message. It is during his two-year period with the organization and the various activities which have helped Blind Cricketers which fetched him the ‘Man of Excellence Year 2020’ award by IFA.

Positivity in a tough situation

In an exclusive chat with DNA, Sahoo said the unprecedented coronavirus situation has taught blind cricketers two things. It has helped the Blind Cricketers enhance their skills which will help them in the long run for their livelihood in addition to their cricketing skills.

“Getting used to technology is one big positive. Most of them were not aware of the technology. We should be positive. You got time to spend time with your family. Before Corona, all these kinds of things were sort of impossible. So that is a positive change. Before corona, we hardly got time to spend with our kids. Sahoo said.

Not daunted by the tough times

The coronavirus pandemic had brought in plenty of restrictions. Any kind of outdoor meeting risked the threat of infection. Yet, knowing the dangers, the Blind Cricketers, led from the front by GK Mahantesh- President, CABI & WBC and John David, the Secretary of CABI with other staffs and players of CABI have been on the ground and doing plenty of social work during the last couple of months.

“Mahantesh has been on the ground during COVID times despite the threat of COVID. He has travelled all over Karnataka and has done plenty of food donation drives and Health & Hygiene kit distribution drives to the front line COVID Warriors and people with disability. John David has also been on the ground giving out food to the street beggars.  Without naming any player, all the players are doing their best individually and with the help of the organization to contribute. Players have been involved in all these activities and social work,” Sahoo stressed

IPL will kickstart everything

There is a danger that there might be no cricket events presently in India due to the worsening coronavirus situation. However, with IPL 2020 beginning in September, Sahoo is optimistic that the IPL will help kick start all cricketing activity in India. Sahoo remarked that the Nagesh Trophy, which is a National Series with the participation of all 24 state affiliates, Hopefully, will start towards the end of October or early November.

“IPL is kicking off in September and after that, every other event will take place,” Sahoo said. When asked whether there was any lack of support from the BCCI, Sahoo rejected it. “I will not say nothing is done. This period was unpredictable. BCCI has been struggling to start the IPL. Leadership is strong. The complete focus, be it private or government, has gone down due to COVID. Once, IPL is kicked off and the matches are over, definitely, blind cricket will gear up and kick into action,” Sahoo said.

With the scenario bleak in times of COVID, Sahoo said this period has brought out the natural fighting ability of a sportsman and stressed on positivity to tide over the entire situation.

“This scenario has given learning. We all are fighters. Sportsman are fighters. It is a new start. You should be hopeful and optimistic that something better is coming up. When you polish your skill you will shine brighter again, Sahoo said. Amidst all the odds, silently but surely, our champion blind cricketers and CABI are making a difference which will help society overcome the coronavirus situation. 

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