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Seeing Beyond the Boundary
USA Blind And Visually Impaired Cricket Initiative Launched

Andy Dalby-Welsh batting and bowling during a net session in Brooklyn. Videos by Shiek Mohamed.
By John L. Aaron
Feb. 4th, 2010
In life we take so much for granted that we often cannot see beyond our immediate environment, our community and our world, but then come along a young man like Andy Dalby-Welsh and you sit up straight, while questioning your own abilities as a sighted person in the world of the visually impaired. It’s an eye-opener, to see what a visually impaired cricketer can do with his ears and a sense of being.

The USA Cricket Association teamed up with Cricket for Change last weekend to create an initiative for introducing cricket to the blind and visually impaired in the USA. However, it was first necessary to convince a number of sighted cricket stakeholders that the sport of blind cricket, now played in more than twenty-five countries, is a viable alternative that opens up a whole new world of possibilities for the visually impaired.

Cricket for Change www.cricketforchange.org.uk/ is a UK based not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of blind and visually impaired cricket for those considered with a disability, but in fact, it’s an inability afforded many of us who still cannot see the world as it really is.

Andy Dalby-Welsh is a 30-year old man who lost his sight at the prime of his athletic and college career, at age twenty. However, his story although a heart-warming one, is in fact a normal story when told by the talented young man himself. During the launch of the blind cricket initiative in New York, the former England national Blind and Visually Impaired cricketer spoke about getting over the shock and deciding very quickly that life for him had a continuation, almost like a sighted person falling off a bicycle, getting up and riding again.

Cricket for Change selected New York City as the gateway to introducing the sport to the USA and arrived with a delegation of four very modest, unassuming and down-to-earth individuals who have helped launch the sport in so many countries worldwide. Andy Dalby-Welsh, Director of Programs at Cricket for Change was the only visually impaired member of the team. He was accompanied by Adam Hall, Development Manager, Andy Sellins, former England Blind and Visually Impaired cricket coach, and Tom Rodwell, CEO.

The quartet was also accompanied by a member of the London Metropolitan Police John Markham who held discussions with the New York Police Department cricket brass, while here, exchanging best practices between the two law enforcement agencies and their support of the game.

Pictured left to right: Andy Sellins, Adam Hall and Andy Dalby-Welsh receives a plaque of appreciation from Dolly Prasad, as Clifford Hinds and Krish Prasad looks on. Photo by Shiek Mohamed.

The New York initiative was very well coordinated by 2009 ICC Centennial Medal recipient Clifford Hinds, with support from the New York Region’s representative on the USACA board Krish Prasad and a host of others, all chipping in to make the welcome reception, conference and live demonstration a memorable one. The welcoming reception and press conference was well-attended, as most persons were curious to have a glimpse of how this sphere of the sport that’s so largely dependent on vision was played. The visitors did not disappoint, answering the more mundane to the most intriguing of questions.

The live demonstration on Sunday at an indoor cricket facility in Brooklyn was fascinating, as the parallels between sighted cricket and this whole new experience for many, were drawn.

With a ringing endorsement from New York’s Governor David A. Paterson, the initiative is well underway with a coaching group from Cricket for Change expected to return to New York in May this year, to conduct more in depth coaching seminars and the involvement of visually impaired organizations and individuals identified by USA Cricket.

This USACA initiative, although small in scale is the seed planted for the national organization to galvanize some of its stakeholders in helping its many sighted members, see beyond the boundary.

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