Pupils at Eros School in Athlone were bowled over by a Table Cricket donation yesterday.
The Lord’s Taverners, the UK’s leading youth cricket and disability sports charity, surprised pupils at the school with their new sporting activity.
Principal Samuel Julius was beaming after the handover: “When I came here and saw what was happening and how excited the pupils were, it was amazing. I said to myself that this is revolutionary.
“Here are these pupils who could take part in many activities, but when it came to sport they had to sit back and spectate. Now they are able to be in the heart of the game and be a part of a team.”
During a Table Cricket match, pupils are placed at strategic points around the table to perform their roles as fielders while one player takes his place at the crease at the head of the table, and faces six balls in an innings, trying to score as many “runs” by aiming for points.
Julius said it was beautiful watching his pupils participate in the demonstration.
“The one girl who at first said she did not want to take part because she does not like sport is a common answer, because our disabled children have been marginalised for a long time. But when she scored a six when it was her turn to bat, she immediately asked if she could call her mother to share the good news.
“They have been used to just sitting on the sidelines and not participating physically, but now they can do that. This is the best thing that could happen to special needs schools.”
Lord’s Taverners South Africa chief executive David Ralph said that when the charity started in South Africa, it focused on introducing table cricket.
“The key thing about this is that these children never get an opportunity to play team sports or sports at all So what this sport does is it makes them part of a group. It’s also a hand-eye coordination thing, and they focus on numeracy when adding their scores,” Ralph said.
The Lord’s Taverners originated in the UK with the sole purpose of raising money to give children with disabilities the opportunity to be involved in sport and share the love of the game of cricket.
There is a Lord’s Taverners chapter in Australia and the South African chapter was launched last year.