The success story of Shekhar Naik is filled with grit, determination, and perseverance. Despite being physically disabled, Naik joined the Indian national blind cricket team and captioned India to victories at the T-20 Blind Cricket World Cup in 2012 and 2014. In 2017, Shekhar Naik was awarded the Padma Shri award which is the highest civilian honor.
Naik was born in Shimoga, Karnataka on 7 April 1986, and his whole family was involved in farming. Since he was born in a farmer’s family he did not have enough money to support his dream. Moreover, Naik faced immense hardship throughout his childhood. When he was young, his father died and Naik was sent to ‘Shri Sharda Devi School for the blinds’.
His mother and the 15 members of the family suffer from visual impairment, and Naik’s disability is hereditary as well. As his family barely earned enough to eat, they could not provide him with enough money to support his cricket journey. This is when Naik took the steering of his life into his own hands and started working in the fields during the summer holidays to fund his cricket training. However, he experienced another shock when his mother also died – when he was just 12 years old.
It was that moment in his life after which he never looked back. He started playing cricket to be happy. “I did not play cricket to earn money. That was never my aim. Only after winning the World Cup, we have started getting some financial support”, he said.
As of now, the Indian board of cricket – BCCI does not recognize blind cricket, but Naik is optimistic about getting recognition from the BCCI. Before 2012, no one knew about blind cricket. However, after the world cup, awareness started to grow about the sport and the number of states in which blind cricket is played.
Blind cricket is a type of cricket in which the size of the ball is slightly bigger than a normal cricket ball, and it also has a few ball bearings inside. Naik believes that blind cricket should also be affiliated with BCCI. In the era where IPL is given due attention, and cricketers are rewarded with megabucks for playing ten-odd IPL matches, Naik says that if sponsors show their interest in the blind cricket as well, it will make the sport more popular amongst the audience of this country.
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