Athletics/Sports

Nepal Fields National Cricket Team for Blind Women

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The rules are modified for players' vision levels, and the bats are shorter. But the pride of the players on Nepal's national team for blind women seems boundless. "We'll soon present a world-class blind woman cricketer," the team's coach says.



POKHARA, Nepal (WOMENSENEWS)--Swastika Bhujel, 22, is blind. But that doesn't stop her from playing cricket. She and her teammates are gaining fame in Nepal as part of what they say is the world's first national cricket team for blind women.

"At first, even I didn't believe in myself enough to play the game," she says. "But when I put down the white stick and picked up the [cricket] bat, I could play the game well."

Bhujel is from Tanahu, a district in Nepal's western region. She is studying to receive her bachelor's degree in education at Prithivi Narayan Campus in Pokhara, a tourist city in Kaski, another district in this region.

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Jharana Bohara, one of her college friends, says Bhujel is so good when she plays cricket that people are often surprised to find out she is blind.

"Seeing her play so skillfully, people don't realize that she is blind," Bohara says. "But when they discover that and see that she almost never misses her target, they often wonder if she sees with her hands."

Bhujel, who also works as a massage therapist, says she was sitting in the park with friends one day when some senior men from her college approached and told her that she should play cricket.

"I was taken aback and said to myself, 'If I had the ability to do something like play cricket despite being blind, I would instead use it to bring my vision back,'" she says.

But instead she asked them if it were possible. They replied that she was physically fit and could play the game despite being blind. She says she started playing in 2007.

Bhujel's friends who aren't blind say her skills put them to shame.

"When we look at her play, it seems that we are the ones who don't have vision," says Sarita Poudel, one of Bhujel's classmates from Baglung, a district in Nepal's western region.

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