Come November and the city will see a first-of-its-kind cricket tournament that has never been held anywhere in the world. Speech and hearing impaired girls from across the country will take the field at Gujarat Refinery Stadium to bat for the national champions’ title. A national tournament for speech and hearing impaired girls is being planned by Nitendra Singh, fondly called as Munna Singh in cricket coaching circles, to boost the sport among these differently-abled girls.
Singh is coaching 34 such girls from Gujarat for the last 10 days at Gujarat Refinery stadium and their performance has encouraged him to coach more girls. “I have got offers from three other states including Maharashtra, Karnataka and Punjab to coach the deaf and mute girls and prepare cricket teams. So, I am planning to organise a national tournament wherein these differently-abled girls from different states can participate,” said Singh, who was the coach of India’s World Cup winning speech and hearing impaired men’s team in 2005.
“I will tour these states for some days and train the coaches. It is very difficult to coach such girls as communication is hard. I have developed a special sign language that helps girls in understanding different cricketing shots and field placements,” Singh, who has been nominated for Dronacharya Award this year, told TOI.
Singh, however, won’t stop at the national tournament as he wants these girls to join the mainstream women’s cricket. He is in process of preparing a national team of deaf and mute girls that will play matches against normal women’s team. “There are many talented deaf and mute girls and if they perform well in such matches then she may get opportunity in the mainstream women’s team,” said Singh and added that his mentor and former Ranji player Ramesh Joshipura helped a lot.
At present, all the girls being coached at the camp are between the age of 12 and 16 and they hail from Palanpur and Navsari. The girls are being provided boarding and other facilities by Gujarat Refinery and GSFC. “I was excited at the idea of playing cricket as I always saw this game on television. I am enjoying the game very much and it has increased my confidence manifolds,” said 14-year-old Suman Chaudhary who is the captain of the team formed during the camp.
“I learnt many things about cricket and I will now go back to our deaf and mute school in Palanpur and teach the game to all the girls. I am sure most of the girls would come forward to learn cricket,” said Kanchan Pandya, special educator who is at the camp along with the girls.