UKZN BELS students who volunteered at the T20 Blind cricket tournament.

Blind Cricket Makes History

In collaboration with UKZN, Blind Cricket South Africa (BCSA) hosted the T20 National Tournament for the first time. The main aim of the tournament was to select the national squad that will travel to India in December for the T20 Blind Cricket World Cup.

Six to eight matches were played daily at different venues. The nine provincial teams included KwaZulu-Natal, Border Lions, Boland, Free State, Limpopo Novus, Northerns, North West (first-time entrants), Western Province, and defending champions Central Gauteng Lions.

Students from UKZN’s Department of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences (BELS) volunteered to act as liaison officers, with each student assigned to a team for the duration of the tournament.

The KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Blind Cricket team made it to the semi-finals without losing a match but lost to the Northerns by seven wickets in that match. Old rivals Central Gauteng and Northerns Gauteng met in the final which was abandoned due to bad weather. The teams shared the trophy.

The KwaZulu-Natal Association for Blind Cricket (KZNABC) congratulated four KZN Blind Cricket Team players and two reserves who were selected for the Blind Proteas Team that will represent South Africa at the World Cup in India.

‘It was an honour and my first time to be part of the T20 Local Organising Committee (LOC),’ said BELS lecturer Dr Khumbuzile Khumalo. ‘Working with different stakeholders around Durban and being the ground co-ordinator for all matches played at Kingsmead Oval was an incredible experience.’

She thanked KZNABC for this opportunity and for the certificates of appreciation awarded to herself and the UKZN volunteers.

‘Our BELS volunteers worked tirelessly to ensure their teams received all the necessary assistance. The teams were very happy and we were impressed considering that it was the first time the students had communicated with blind cricket players. We have no doubt that their careers, as sport scientists, are bright,’ she said.

Mr Gift Zungu, KZNBCA, Media and Liaison Officer commended UKZN volunteers who also assisted with social media updates of scores and designed posters. ‘They became part of the blind cricket family. They were strong and did not crack under pressure. We hope to work with UKZN in the future.’

KZNBCA president, Mr Ndumiso Nyawose commented: ‘The students played a significant role as team liaison and we received positive feedback on their involvement. We are truly grateful to UKZN Sports Science (BELS) for their support of blind cricket and disability sports as a whole in the province. We are sure that the relationship will grow from strength to strength.’

Students said that they were honoured to have acted as liaison officers. For some, sports for people with disabilities are close to their hearts as they have family members with disabilities. They added that they learnt a lot and that it was a great opportunity to network.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied