Lions Clubs International has always aimed to help the cause of humanitarian needs all around the globe. In India, a country with the second largest visually challenged population, the betterment of the visually challenged is the need of the hour. Lions Clubs International has been instrumental in providing support for preventing avoidable blindness and restoring sight for people around the world. Lions have tirelessly participated in causes that work towards the advancement of the visually challenged and are thus, referred to as ‘Knights of the Blind'.
In a bid to give visually challenged individuals an opportunity to participate in sports, a state-level cricket tournament was organized. Lion Mukesh Taneja, District Chairperson 'SightFirst’ of Lions District 323 A2 in association with Blind Welfare Organization, initiated the first-ever inter-state level cricket tournament for the blind. It was a two day event held from 24th November 2015 to 25th November 2015. There were 8 teams (150 players) from different cities of Maharashtra (Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Kolhapur, Sholapur, Nasik, Nagpur, and Akola) competing for the coveted trophy.
The event was inaugurated on 24th November 2015 at Rajiv Gandhi Sports Complex, CBD-Belapur, Navi Mumbai by the Mayor, Hon. Shri. Sudhakar Sonawane, Ex. MLA Hon. Shri. Sanjeev Naik, NMMC Standing committee Chairperson, Hon. Smt. Netra Shirke, Dr. Jayaji Nath (NMMC Cooperator), and District Governor Lion Nitin Shetty among others.
The final match was played at Ghatkopar Jolly Gymkhana on the concluding day. Trophies, medals and other cash prizes were given by Hon. Minister Shri.Prakash Mehta along with bollywood Director Shri.Ramesh Sippy, Cricketer Shri.Padmakar and MCA Secretary Shri.Khanvilkar.
Other N.G.Os along with Lokmat and Fortis Mulund joined hands with Lions Club International in organizing the first-ever event of its kind. This event created a great platform for the visually challenged players to meet and compete with each other. Lions, Leos, local residents and students from civic schools and orphanages came to cheer and encourage the players. The event left the spectators awestruck and inspired when they actually witnessed the efforts and dedication put in by the visually challenged players. The simplicity and enthusiasm on the face of these players will encourage people to support such initiatives in the future.
Lions Club International urges everyone to come and motivate the players at such competitions as it encourages the visually challenged to develop confidence and motivate them to excel in their future pursuits.