Blog: "Playing visually impaired cricket has changed my life!"

The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) website features a blog post every Friday through the year. In 2017, we'll be sharing the experiences of disabled people, and those who support disabled people, on their journey to being more active. This week, Blind Cricket England & Wales (BCEW) International Ladies team captain Lois Turner, 19, from Sutton, and player Leanne Harvey, 23, from Enfield, North London, talk about the positive impact playing Visually Impaired (VI) cricket has had on their lives.

Lois batting during a game of visually-impaired cricket

Lois

I have a visual impairment and a lot of my confidence is due to my involvement in VI cricket. It has become a key support group for me, and it gives me the opportunity to meet a wide variety of people who share a common passion.

VI cricket has helped me to find a job, given me the support skills I need to live by myself, and developed my self-confidence. I feel quite lucky because in the VI world I have many role models who can help me and there are always people who have far worse stories to tell than mine.

I am now the Surrey VI women's team vice-captain and the Blind Cricket England and Wales (BCEW) International Ladies team captain, which is something I never dreamed I could achieve before I started playing VI cricket.

I have gained so much from playing VI cricket and I would strongly advise disabled people who are thinking about taking up some form of sport or exercise to try it. Don’t think about it too much, just do it! I think you will be surprised by what it can do for you.

Leanne on the cricket ground

Leanne

When I first started playing VI cricket at the age of 15, I was very shy and couldn’t communicate properly. Because I have a visual impairment, I had low confidence and self-esteem. I constantly struggled with the fear of being alone. Even walking into another room in my own home was a challenge, and I never left the house alone.

VI cricket has changed this enormously and I now play for the Surrey VI team and the Blind Cricket England and Wales (BCEW) International Ladies team. VI cricket has helped me speak freely among a small group or to people I don’t know, and even to carry out simple tasks such as paying for something at the checkout. It really has been that life-changing for me!

I have learned that having a visual impairment doesn’t stop you from travelling independently, getting employment and living life to the full, just the same as anybody else. Hopefully with a lot of hard work and belief in myself, I will soon be able to leave my house alone and be able to travel comfortably to wherever I need to go.

In 2017, I hope to carry on the successes and achievements as part of the Surrey VI team, as last year we were the BCEW South-East League Champions, and also won the BCEW Regional South and West T20 Cup and Brian Johnston Memorial Trophy. In addition, the BCEW International Ladies team is aiming to raise enough money to go on our first international tour to take on the West Indies early next year.

My advice to other disabled people who are thinking about being more active is to go for it! You never know, you could be really good at something and get some benefits that might not be obvious at first!

To find out more about VI cricket and how to get started, visit the Blind Cricket England and Wales website.