Inclusivity is an imperative ethic for the growth of any community. The only true disability which exists in society is the inability to accept and acknowledge each other’s differences. The Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board (AKYSB) in Pakistan, in collaboration with the Pakistan Blind Cricket Council (PBBC) and the Aga Khan Social Welfare Board, arranged a Blind Cricket and Bowling Tournament for differently-abled Jamati members from Gilgit, Hunza, Ishkoman Puniyal, Gupis Yasin, Upper Chitral, and Central Regions. 

The tournament was organised to create an inclusive environment for blind individuals and to engage them in sports by providing training, and encouraging them to take advantage of national and international opportunities. Being inclusive propagates the idea of appreciating differences and embracing diversity on the disability spectrum rather then marginalising talented young people. Forty two dynamic individuals embarked on this journey and engaged themselves in professional coaching from renowned coaches, namely Coach Ibrar Shah, who has been associated with the PBCC for the last six years, and Coach Anees Javed, who was the Pakistan Blind team captain in 2016 and is also associated with PBCC.

Following the training, 17 players were shortlisted by the PBCC coaches to contend for the national trials and AKYSB inaugurated a blind cricket club for the Gilgit region to consistently train players and prepare them for upcoming trails. “Such a performance by the AKYSB blind cricket team impressed us and led to the exploration of players who could be an asset for the national team. The PBCC would be interested in further collaboration and training of players,” said Coach Javed.

The initiative contributed to the identification of potential cricketers, introduced them to the Pakistan Blind Cricket Council and also fortified organisational relations with sports federations in Pakistan. 

Shamez Mukhi, Chair of AKYSB, Pakistan, remarked that such inclusive programmes stimulate the differently-abled youth of Pakistan and empathise with their needs, by empowering them to achieve goals. Moreover, the differently-abled have the potential to excel in every aspect of life if they believe in themselves and reflect on their diversity as a strength.