More opportunities for disabled cricketers in Trinidad & Tobago
More than 50 children with disabilities in Trinidad and Tobago were given the chance to learn and play cricket after an ECB Disability Coaching programme was rolled out at various sports clubs on the two Caribbean islands.
Around 35 coaches were given instruction in disability coaching as part of a programme to give more children of mixed disabilities the chance to play regular competitive cricket within a pre-defined structure.
The courses were delivered by four ECB coaches with extensive experience of working with cricketers with disabilities and who had attended ECB tutor training qualifying them to deliver the ECB’s disability cricket module.
Hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Alliance for Sport and Physical Education (TTASPE), the coach education programme was set up following discussions earlier this year between ECB coaches and members of the Trinidad & Tobago government who funded the initiative and the Cricket Board.
The four coaching sessions were delivered on a regional basis with ECB coaches spending two days in each location, delivering the ECB Disabilities Coaching Module and doing practical projects with delegates working with children with disabilities from the local community.
Many coaches were newly qualified Level 1 coaches while others were new to the game. It is hoped that each region will develop its own mixed disability team and that a tournament will take place in October 2007 between the regions.
The success of the programme, which attracted widespread local publicity has also raised the possibility of staging an international coaches tutor course for the disability module.
The four ECB coaches were Ian Martin, a disabled player, Sport Development Officer and Level 2 Coach. Bobby Denning from the Lancashire Cricket Board currently undertaking his Level 4 coaching award and coach to the England Learning Disability and Deaf Squads; Ian Powell, Yorkshire Cricket Board Level 3 coach to the England LD Squad and Peter Edmondson, Level 2 coach Disability Sport Officer for Lancashire and former Chairman of the BACD.
“One of the best experiences for me personally was during the lunch break at Aranguez when I got in my wheelchair and asked one of the coaches to bowl at me,” explained Ian Martin.
“A couple of others joined in as fielders. The rest stopped talking and watched. As I played a cut shot some gave a round of applause and most said 'well played' or 'good shot'. I just got the feeling that they weren’t expecting me to be able to play from a chair at all.
“I am not the most accomplished wheelchair player in the UK but the practical demonstration of what can be achieved by a wheelchair player has made an impact in Trinidad.
"I also felt that I gained their respect as a cricketer through showing that I could play rather than just talk about the game from a disabled perspective.
“For players with a disability credibility is an ongoing battle that is generally won by simply being allowed to play the game.”
The programme is being driven in the Caribbean by Andre and Roberta Rose–Collins at TTASPE and by Kumar Rampath, Territorial Development Officer of WICB.