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Amid cheers, 20 visually-impaired cricketers play an inspiring match organised by Hyderabad-based Spurthi Vision Care Society

The excitement is palpable as 20 visually impaired cricketers – in totally blind, partially blind and partially sighted categories – play a 10-over cricket match at Hyderabad Public School, Begumpet in Hyderabad. The cricket match organised by the city-based NGO, Spurthi Vision Care Society, had two teams with 10 players each. The match was played between Devnar Sr and Devnar Jr from the Devnar School for the Blind. Amidst cheers by 100 guests including volunteers, the Devnar Jr team won the match scoring 130 runs against Devnar Sr who scored 111 runs.

Pushpa Venugopa
| Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Looking fragile yet cheerful among the audience was Spurthi’s founder Pushpa Venugopal aka granny. Overwhelmed with emotions, the 85-year-old said “This might be the last Fair Play cricket match that I am organising. My age doesn’t permit me to plan such matches in future.” Cheering loud among the audience was Sampath Shankar and his team of volunteers who played an active role in planning for this cricket match — from designing and printing banners, certificates to sharing write-up… this group has been leading from the front.

How it started

Pushpa’s journey with the voluntary organisation began in 2007. An IT professional and volunteer, Arutprakash T R, shares the story. “Around two decades ago, an idea to serve the less- fortunate sprouted in Pushpa’s mind. She was going through testing times on the personal front. To keep her mind away from her troubles, Pushpa decided to invest her energy into making a difference in the lives of differently abled children. This was the beginning of Spurthi Vision Care Society,” The organisation has a group of like-minded individuals drawn from all walks of life, who support differently-abled children from Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

In action

In action
| Photo Credit: Special arrangement

With the main focus of supporting education, Spurthi’s ‘healthy competition’ in sports and literary activities was set up as a platform for the differently-abled to meet and exhibit their diverse talents and skills.

The first three years saw chess and cricket matches for the visually challenged, organised professionally with eight teams from Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam and Tirupati (in the then undivided Andhra Pradesh). Later, the competitions expanded to 3K mini-marathons and quizzes for youth with hearing impairment and motor disabilities.

Recollecting blind cricketer Ajay Kumar Reddy’s century in a 20-over match organised by Spurthi, Arut says, “It was a proud moment for us when he went on to become the captain of the Indian cricket team for the visually challenged.”

A team of volunteers - Sampath Shankar (seated third from right) and his friends

A team of volunteers – Sampath Shankar (seated third from right) and his friends
| Photo Credit: Special arrangement

“Barring the lockdown years, we conducted events every year. Even during those two years, we did our bit to provide essential supplies to around 500 families that included migrant workers, skilled labour, private school teachers, artisans and PWD beneficiaries.”

Role model

The octogenarian’s cheerful attitude and indomitable spirit has been a role model for scores of young volunteers at Spurthi. “She organises everything – from coordinating with caterers and fixing the venue to getting approvals. Being her right-hand man for the past five years, I should be the one who is running around but she plans everything meticulously; then in the end she thanks the team members. Her humility, grace and discipline are a lesson for us.”

Will this be Spurthi’s last cricket match? “That’s what Granny says. But the kind of support she has, only time can tell.”

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