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Old November 19, 2006, 02:34 AM
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Sam Sam is offline
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Cool Well done boys!

Here is the story of a BD cricket team, which became the runners up in the recently concluded tournament held in India. Yes, this story is all about the BD team of intellectually challenged children for the Special Olympics Invitational Cricket Tournament.

All they want is freedom
Mohammad Isam

If you let them play, you can see their eyes glint with immeasurable joy. And the intensity that they exert is quite amazing. Yet, they cannot be taken to a park on a regular basis, just because the sentiment from the parents of the intellectually disabled children is that they might not be accepted or even scorned at.

We would never talk about such matters in public but the harsh reality is that the 'avoidance' is quite involuntary on our part.

So it was quite surprising for Lavel's father Zahid Hossain, a banker, to allow his intellectually disabled child to go such distance, just to play the game of cricket.

"We were quite apprehensive to say the least. I have never let him out of my sight but seeing their practice sessions before leaving and being assured by the coaches, I thought this could be a good opportunity to let him go," said Zahid.

His son Lavel was among 30 students trialed initially as part of a nationwide campaign to find cricketers in the forty-five schools headed by Society for the Welfare of the Intellectually Disabled (SWID) International for a tour to India to participate in the Special Olympics Invitational Cricket Tournament earlier this November.

After the preliminary trials, fifteen were selected and called to practise at the Gulshan Youth Club ground.

National sports director of Special Olympics in Bangladesh AHM Mostofa, who was the head coach and manager for the tour, also echoes the view of Lavel's father.

"It was quite surprising to see their parents so much involved in this venture. Personally, I felt that if these boys were allowed their freedom, they would function well," said Mostofa, a voluntary with the organisation since 1995.

"If we guide them properly, their physiology will improve a lot. Whenever they are out in the open, say in a park, their blood circulation rises. This allows their brain to work much better and makes them apply their natural skills," said the man who was in the physical education department of Dhaka University for nearly 32 years before joining hands with the Special Olympics.

Coach Sadiquzzaman Pintu was invited to give the boys technical help in terms of their skills, which he says they had plenty of.

"I had never worked with intellectually-challenged boys before so I thought I would just embrace them as a big brother would, since teaching them cricket was secondary," said Pintu.

Aged between 17 and 22, these boys come from diverse backgrounds. But for them, social class is never an issue. All they loved was the fact that they were not hindered from doing what they like best -- play and be on their own for a couple of hours every day.

Preparations were as good as it could be in only ten days but when the visa and ticket complication was taken care of by the organisers, there was no looking back and in India, the fifteen boys were given tremendous hospitality.

And they played superb too. Winning their two opening matches against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, they were pitted against India in the final of the competition.

"They won the matches in successive days (November 10 and 11) and got very tired. But when they realised that they were to play in the final, one could tell that they were very delighted," said Pintu, a coach at the Dhanmondi Cricket Academy (DCA) and the premier league side Kalabagan.

Mostofa and Pintu were assisted by Ali Haider and Maruf Ahmed Mridul, a teacher with the Ramna School during the tour.

"We are grateful to the sponsors -- Bangladesh Cricket Board, the army chief and the directors of Special Olympics Bangladesh -- for providing us with enough financial backbone for the tour.

"The locals were very nice to the boys and it seemed that Indians were more liberal and knew how to embrace these boys. They provided us with plenty of practice materials and had a general sense of hospitality towards us," informed Mostofa.

The final was won by the hosts by 61 runs and the defeat was taken sportingly and the players were seen shaking hands just like it was the end of any international cricket match.

Mukul Chandra Das and Abdul Hamid were among the ten best batsmen in the meet and were given bats signed by the Indian legends Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev.

The tour and the entire time that the parents of these boys spent with the coaches were a learning experience for both sides.

"They were very happy when we arrived with their children. There were uneasiness at the start but now that we are back, the parents have realised the enormity of this tournament," said Pintu, who misses his days with the boys at Gulshan Youth ground.
Some of these boys will have another opportunity to 'play' even more when they travel to Shanghai next year to participate in the Special Olympics Games and 'play' is all they desire.
\'Actions speak louder than words\'
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Old November 19, 2006, 02:48 AM
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Tokyobreeze Tokyobreeze is offline
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Originally Posted by Sam
Here is the story of a BD cricket team, which became the runners up in the recently concluded tournament held in India. Yes, this story is all about the BD team of intellectually challenged children for the Special Olympics Invitational Cricket Tournament.
The final that India won had seven lbw decisions against us.The news was also there in Prothom-Alo(16/11/2006).I am really happy at the great achievement of our boys, specially considering so many barriars they had to cross.But, at the same time can't help my frustration about the way the umpireing was done.
I am losing everyday, my team only looses sometime. I am and will always stand by my team.
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Old November 19, 2006, 04:00 AM
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karimjay. karimjay. is offline
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Haha. Just to let you know my team played a friendly against the Australian Special Olympics team. They're very talented and you won't have an idea that they are infact, mentally limited. In that match I got bowled by a reverse swinging indipper..:O
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Old November 19, 2006, 07:21 AM
thebest thebest is offline
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actually I read the article in prothom alo. their struggle to join the tournament is more news worthy.
Twenty20 is not a gentleman's game. It's like a one-night stand and not a marriage. It is a street format and the goonda doesn't know what is a late cut or a cover drive
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Old November 19, 2006, 12:34 PM
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kalpurush kalpurush is offline
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A great show by our boys. Congratulations...job well done.
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Old November 19, 2006, 01:56 PM
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Kabir Kabir is offline
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Very touching. I've worked with special needs kids in a school here...the article is so right in one thing. When you play with them, their eyes shine...it's a great feeling. I think there's work being done in BD about it now, and this is long overdue. Congratulations for the win, and successfully organizing this tournament.
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Old November 19, 2006, 03:37 PM
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Protic Protic is offline
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Yeah followed the series..
Well Done Tigers!!
Tip : Shahriar Nafees should start seeing every team as Australia and treat every bowler as Shane Warne - Myself.
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