Wed | Dec 13, 2017

Blind cricketers get help from SDF, JCA

Published:Sunday | January 22, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The West Indies' visually impaired cricket team's Jamaican players have received a sponsorship of just under $3 million to compete in the 2017 T20 World Cup Cricket for the Blind in India at the end of the month.

The Sports Development Foundation (SDF) has contributed $2.2 million of this, with another $750,000 coming from the Jamaica Cricket Association.

Sports Minister Olivia Grange said that the team still needs all the support it can get, especially financially, and has urged corporate Jamaica to get on board to help to cover other expenses the team still has.

"There is still a shortfall and I will continue to lobby on behalf our visually challenged cricketers. They deserve this opportunity to compete against the best players in the world. They have always represented their country and the region with distinction and I know they will do so again. I appeal to corporate Jamaica to get behind our visually impaired cricketers and help them to get to the World Cup," the sports minister said.

The donation was made to the team on behalf of the Jamaica Visually Impaired Cricket Association as the West Indies Cricket Council for the Blind had requested that each player gets funding from the respective territories. This meant a higher figure was needed for the Jamaicans as eight of them make up the 11-member squad.

Minister Grange and SDF general manager Denzil Wilks both assured the team that the donation would not affect funds to be given to the Jamaicans at a later date as they look to defend their regional title.

SENSE OF OPTIMISM

The team had faced the threat of withdrawing from the competition because of a lack of funds, but as they now look towards their opening game against the hosts on January 31, squad member Jason Ricketts said that there is a renewed sense of optimism in the camp.

"We're confident," he says. "I'm not gonna say that we're gonna win (the entire competition), but we're in a better position now and actually feeling better than a week ago."

His teammate Mark Sweeney said that the donation has him motivated even more to make the region proud.

"I must say that I am feeling a sense of relief," Sweeney said. "I really want to go and represent my country and the region. We're going out there to give it our best, nothing but the best."

Ricketts said that the uncertainty over participation has affected the team's training, but they will make the most of the remaining time.

"It's (preparations) not as smooth as we'd want it to be, but we just have to work with the limited time and resources that we have and try and make it work when we get down to India."

The 2017 T20 World Cup for the Blind will run from January 28 to February 12.