The Cricket Association for Blind in India are organising a national tournament for women in association with Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled. The tournament, named Samarthanam Women’s National Cricket Tournament for Blind 2019, will be held in Twenty20 format from December 16-19 in New Delhi.

Seven teams representing the states of Delhi, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha and West Bengal will play in the league stages over the first two days spread over three venues in Siri Fort Sports Complex, DDA Sports Complex in Saket and Jamia Milia University followed by the final at Siri Fort Sports Complex on December 19.

India opener Smriti Mandhana is championing the cause while West Indies batting great Brian Lara was there at the launch.

Odisha, who have played a CABI-organised bilateral series, will be one of the strongest contingents among the seven teams in the inaugural edition of this tournament. They are mentored by Odisha-born Iqbal Jaffar, who is a World Cup winning blind cricket player.

Delhi remains another strong contender with 60 girls having had the experience of playing for the state, out of which 16 have been selected to represent the team in the upcoming Nationals.

Having created a setup for the men’s blind cricket in India, the CABI are looking to similarly help women’s cricket grow. They are also looking for support from BCCI and recently met BCCI President Sourav Ganguly and Joint Secretary Jayesh George for the same.

“Disability should not be a considered a hindrance to achieving one’s goals. I thoroughly appreciate this fantastic initiative taken by CABI and Samarthanam Trust in India and I am convinced that if such strong stakeholders come together around the world, then there is no reason why blind cricket will not see a growth world over,” said Lara.

“Women’s cricket was in the pipeline for the last 10 years as we believe they have equal rights to play. After Samarthanam was given full responsibility of CABI in 2010, we immediately started acting upon the idea and we are extremely proud that we could implement that dream finally,” said Mahantesh G Kivadasannavar, Founder and Managing Trustee, Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled and President, CABI and also President of World Blind Cricket.

“We saw immense potential among the players not only sports wise but also as a medium to empower them; give them a voice and a platform to express their talent. Since the discussions have been on there has been tremendous interest and spirit among the girls and I am confident that this Women’s Nationals will go a long way in inspiring girls from across the nation,” Shailender Yadav, North Zone Secretary, Cricket Association for the Blind.