Cricket for people with a disability will this summer experience an unprecedented opportunity, uniting three divisions of the sport in a national tournament.
As Australia this weekend helps the world celebrate International Day of Persons With a Disability, the WACA is preparing to send three teams to the upcoming National Cricket Inclusion Championships at Geelong’s Kardinia Park, Victoria, from 17-24 January.
The tournament is expected to feature 14 teams and more than 200 players from across the country.
WA will send its own Deaf Cricket team and will combine with South Australia to form a Blind Cricket team, while a side of the state’s Intellectual Disability players will join their counterparts for the first time at a national tournament.
Both the Deaf and Blind divisions have selected their sides, while the Intellectual Disability squad is in the final stages of selection.
The teams will complete their training requirements between now and the start of the tournament, with a send-off ceremony planned at the WACA Ground on 3 January.
The NCIC competition holds particular significance for the Blind Cricket division, which will use the tournament as a tune-up for its players ahead of the T20 Blind Cricket World Cup in India from 28 January to 12 February.
WACA Multicultural & Disability Programs Coordinator Brad Denham said the NCIC was an exciting development for cricket for people with a disability.
"The NCIC is a fantastic opportunity and has come about through Cricket Australia and the state and territory bodies building a relationship with the Blind and Deaf cricket associations to form an aligned pathway,” Denham said.
"Of particular importance is the opportunities for cricketers with an intellectual disability; significant funding from CA and the WACA has allowed a pathway to be developed for cricketers with intellectual disabilities to play the game from grassroots to the international level.
"In the past, there have been tournaments for Intellectual Disability cricket, but they’ve been run on an ad hoc basis and this is the first time states have been unified with CA to run truly national tournament.”