Despite odds, India blind women’s cricket team captain Varsha soldiers on

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Varsha captained the Indian side which won the gold medal at the recent IBSA World Games held in Birmingham.

BENGALURU: Success comes to those who persevere to achieve perfection from their hard work despite failures. One such individual is Varsha Umapathi, captain of the Indian Blind Women’s Cricket Team, which created history by winning a gold medal at the IBSA World Games in August, beating Australia by nine wickets.

Hailing from Hadihola village near Hiriyur in Chitradurga taluk, Varsha could manage on her own up to Class 10. As she was already interested in sports, she decided to pursue it later on too, but fate had other plans for her. Varsha lost her eyesight completely after she completed Class 10 and moved to Bengaluru to learn Braille.

Driven by determination, Varsha completed a degree course too. She captained the Karnataka side and secured a place in the national team in 2023 and the team has already won two series under her captaincy.

“Though I am interested in sports, I could not play due to my eyesight issues. I came to know about cricket for the visually impaired through a friend and I learnt to hit the ball only by listening to the sound”, she said.

Varsha has won numerous accolades.

Varsha started cricket practice in 2019 and found a place in the Karnataka team which she also captained. After working hard for 3-4 years, she was selected for the national side and soon became captain. To her record, she had scored a century and also a half century in just 13 balls.

“I was partially blind since birth and my eyesight deterioriated over the years. My parents helped a lot with my studies. They took me to various doctors, but they say the retina issue cannot be fixed. I wrote the exam with the help of a scribe. Later, I learnt Braille in Bengaluru. Samarthanam Trust help me train for cricket”.

Varsha said the team has an upcoming series against Nepal at Mumbai from December 11 to 15. “We will be going to Mumbai for practice. I need a cricket kit and helmet for training. During the IBSA World Games, I sustained injury on the head while trying to take a catch”.

Varsha’s mother Yashoda says a government job will for her will give a sense of security.

Varsha’s mother Yashoda said, “The team, under Varsha, won the gold medal in England and brought fame for the country. If the government can support her with a job, it will help her a great deal”.

Varsha, who was featured on Public TV’s ‘Belaku programme, said, “My father is a farmer and it is very difficult for us financially. The Chief Minister had promised Rs 5 lakh each for the three of us from Karnataka after we won the gold medal, but we have not got anything. I was determined to play for the country and it will help a great deal if the BCCI recognises and promotes blind cricket. Right now, the Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI) is promoting the game”.

The team, led by Varsha, beat Australia to clinch gold at the IBSA World Games recently.

“I recently completed my degree course and I am applying for government jobs. But sometimes, I may be away when the recruitment exams are held. In other sports, if sportspersons play at the national level, they are given government jobs. We have played at the international level and even won a gold medal. If the government provides a job, it will be really helpful”, Varsha said.

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