By LAURA MACINTOSH
Cricket Fiji’s Inclusive Cricket team have been flat-out over the last few months, conducting training sessions in diverse settings, planning family gala days, furthering staff education through sign language classes, and focusing on growing the number of inclusive cricket opportunities for individuals throughout Fiji. So when we received an invitation from of our friends at the Fiji Disabled People’s Federation (FDPF) to travel to Vanua Levu to conduct workshops and advocacy programs for local communities, as well as partake in the Bua province’s inaugural Sports Festival, the Inclusive Cricket team jumped at the chance.
The Inclusive Cricket Fiji team joined our partners at the FDPF in Solevu from July 1 to 6. The week-long trip included advocacy workshops for individuals with a disability and leaders within the community, provided attendees with knowledge on how cricket and sport can be used as a tool for inclusion, and concluded with a Sports Festival attended by 19 local communities. Cricket Fiji representatives engaged the audience through theoretical and practical information sessions on the rules of the global game, and instructed participants on how cricket can be modified for individuals of all abilities.
Sport has the ability to unite people from diverse backgrounds, break perceived barriers and provide opportunities for all. On Friday 5th July, at the Solevu Sports Festival, during the final day of FDPF and Cricket Fiji’s visit to Vanua Levu, sport left it’s mark as a powerful advocacy tool within the disability sector. After two successful days of village workshops, which provided a voice for individuals from all walks of life, community members came together to celebrate their sporting ability. Combining a range of cricket skills and activities, Cricket Fiji conducted inclusive cricket activities through a range of modified techniques, emphasizing the enjoyment that playing cricket can bring to all.
The biggest reward from the Sports Festival was playing a part in providing an opportunity for Elena Tinanikalau to leave her home for the first time in twenty years. Seventy-six year-old Elena has a physical disability, and thoroughly enjoyed the inclusive cricket activities that she was able to take part in.
Inclusive Cricket Fiji will continue to have a busy schedule in the next couple of months, with the structured Special Schools’ Cricket Tournament beginning this Friday, and concluding on August 16 with a Family Gala Day at Albert Park.