Disability cricket being developed in Bulgaria

Wed, Jan 25, 2012 9:39 PM
Disability cricket being developed in Bulgaria
Rehman showing the children
Bulgarian Cricket Federation (ICC Affiliate Member) have been delivering a Disability Development Programme which is making life changes to young children who have a disability in Bulgaria.

Lead Coach Saif Rehman and support Coach Dimitrinka Slavtcheva are working with The Foundation ‘Kids with Developmental Problems’ Medical Centre in Sofia to introduce cricket to young children. The day-care centre has been established by a group of parents to support children suffering from cerebral palsy with attendant sensory damages, epileptic syndrome and learning disabilities.

The first training was on January 12, 2012 and the group consisted of 3 boys and 2 girls aged 6-14 years old. Rehman explains, “They are currently having physiotherapy but none of them had played any sport before; the only sports offered at the centre were swimming and horse riding. At the first practice most of the children had difficulties in holding the ball and almost no ability to throw, however there was great motivation to learn in executing the tasks after three practices, there was considerable improvement.”

The development programme has also supported children with physical disabilities. The coaching team have been able to deliver sessions to children who are in a wheel chairs. A mixture of table cricket and small games made it possible for all children to enjoy the game of cricket. “The programme has received a lot of support and positive feedback from the support staff and the parents. The children from the daycare centre have asked for the cricket to continue and parents and support staff have expressed interest in joining to continue the programme” comments Rehman.

The programme has been so successful the coaching team is looking to start working with a group of children with Autism and visual impairments in order to get more juniors involved at this level. At the moment the coaching team is contacting several other day centers as well as a state-governed institution with an offer to teach special cricket.

There has been great coverage across Bulgaria for this latest venture as Rehman says, “Most of all we would like to help the children with special needs, to provide them with an alternative to their physiotherapy – the participation in sport activity with their peers. The most watched TV station in Bulgaria has approached us to make reportage in their evening news,” concludes Rehman.

Chris Porter , ICC Europe Development Officer and ECB Visual Impaired National Coach is delighted with the programme. “Saif approached me via email a couple of months ago and I was very impressed with the plan which was very clear and his passion and motivation to develop this disability programme was clear to see.

“Disability Cricket is just starting in Europe we have pockets of activity in Ireland, Guernsey, Scotland and Germany. We are current working with a number of organisations to support disability cricket in Europe. The future looks very promising for disability cricket in Europe,” concludes Porter.

For more information about disability cricket in Europe please visit the ICC Europe Website.