UK Women’s Blind Cricket Makes History in Nepal

“Thank you for teaching us the sky is not the limit …..especially if you are reaching for the stars”, said Theresa Roberts of the UK’s 1st All Female Visually Impaired cricket team on their tour to Nepal.

IMG_3568The UK’s 1st All Female Visually Impaired Cricket Team – Nepal 2014

History was made by the UK’s First All Female Visually Impaired (VI) cricket team following their groundbreaking tour to South east Asia at the end of last month. After 4yrs of development and dedication, from Beth Evans (their coach), the 11 members of the UK team plus their support staff headed out Nepal to play in their first international match. It was also the first time that the Nepal team (founders of worlds first female VI team) had played against a team from another country.

For the young women on the UK team this was more that just about cricket. For all of them it was a positive life changing trip. Most of the team had not really been too far away from their family and friends in the UK, let alone visit another country over four and half thousand miles away!  The tour gave them the opportunity to develop new higher levels of independence, self-confidence and self esteem.  Being part of the team, and now a touring team, has given them a chance to build new friendships and pillars of support for each other.

The team flew from London via Delhi and landed in Nepal on the 20th October.  They spent a few days acclimatising to what were very hot conditions and so took the opportunity to visit many parts of beautiful Nepal. After their first stay in Kathmandu, the team headed up to the stunningly picturesque town of Pokhara.

The tour allowed the team the chance to mix and interact with young people from a different culture and background. With this in mind the team visited, along with The President of The Blind Cricket Association, a school for the visually impaired in Pokhara. Here they met some of the female students to talk about the school and blind cricket.

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The girls visiting a Blind School in Pokhara, Nepal

The team eventually headed back to Kathmandu to prepare for the 3 international matches against their Nepalese counterparts.  The host country gave the UK team a wonderfully warm welcome as both teams were excited about making history in this first ever all female VI international. In what were testing weather conditions to play in, the UK team competed well over the three matches but were pipped in all 3 games by a more experienced Nepalese team.  Nevertheless, each member of the UK team had achieved so much more on this tour than they could have ever have imagined.

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UK VI Cricket Team in Action in Nepal – 2014

After their last match both teams were invited to a special reception hosted by the UK Ambassador, Andrew Sparkes, at the British Embassy in Kathmandu.  Here the UK team were able to enjoy a wonderful evening and the chance to share with guests some of their stories.  At the matches, The British Ambassador thanked ”the Nepali “sisters” for giving an opportunity to their British counterparts to compete in the first ever women’s international blind cricket series in the world. You have given us a great opportunity,”

The Chief of Communications at UNICEF, Nepal, John Brittain who was a guest at the matches said, “I hope that this great achievement will take not just blind cricket to higher heights in the country (Nepal), but also inspire other people, especially children with various other disabilities to take up sports as a means of self-expression as well as self-empowerment.”

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UK and Nepal Teams – World’s 1st All Female VI International – 2014

FINAL THOUGHTS
Huge thanks must also go to the support of the tour from Major Pawan Ghimire, of the Cricket Association of the Blind Nepal, whose drive, dedication and ambition saw Nepal become the world’s first ever all female VI team. Pawan says of women’s blind cricket in Nepal, ”I just wanted to give equal opportunity to both men and women”.

As has been said the trip was life changing for many. Here are just a few thoughts from some of the UK team members:

Sarah Clare – Just back from an absolutely amazing and life changing trip to Nepal! Never gonna see the world in the same way again! Made me more determined than ever! ‘Let’s go ladies let’s go!!’ We are going to do amazing things!!!!

Sonia Pereira – Thanks to all the girls for making the trip to Nepal incredible. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of such a fantastic team. This trip has changed me as an individual and appreciative of the things I have. Thank you Beth (Evans) for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity and for believing in my abilities.

Isabell Kipling – Had an amazing time away with these girls, love and miss you guys and Beth you are an inspiration to us all if it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t of been where we are now what would we do if we didn’t have our amazing coach Bethan Evans xxxx

The tour was kindly supported by: England & Wales Cricket Board, The Brian Johnston Memorial Fund, The Primary Club, the READY charity, the VICTA charity and MetroVI Sports.