Europe may soon have another Nation competing in Baseball for the Blind. A group of players from Manchester, England, is attending a training camp organised by the Leonessa club, one of the teams competing in the Italian League Baseball for the Blind, in Brescia, northwestern Lombardia region.
The players are originally part of a blind cricket team headed by John Eaton.
The link was Leonessa’s captain and Italian League star Sarwar Ghulam. A former cricket player, who had his eyesight damaged by illness as a teenager, Ghulam was born and grew up in Pakistan. He moved to Italy where he was introduced to Baseball for the Blind and became the number one player in the League. He helped Milan Thunder’s Five earn six League Titles and then founded, with some help from Barbara Menoni, the Leonessa team in Brescia, the city where he lives and works. Ghulam has also conducted (2016) a clinic for the Pakistan Blind Baseball Federation.
Ghulam has relatives in Manchester and this helped him connect with Sheraz Chohan, who chairs an Association experienced in Cricket for the Blind.
Cohan visited Italy in October 2018 and got to know AIBxC (Associazione Italiana Baseball per Ciechi), the governing body of Baseball for the Blind in the Country, and put Ghulam in touch with the Manchester players.
The training camp will run through Sunday, 24 March. It’s supervised by Lorenzo de Regny, who is in charge of AIBxC international development. Fabio Giurleo (Leonessa Brescia head coach) and Marco Acciai (Roma head coach) are the instructors. The Manchester players will interact with some Leonessa Brescia regulars.
Baseball and Cricket for the blind have a lot in common.
“The real difference is that the cricket batter has a sighted substitute runner,” commented Sheraz Chohan.
Lorenzo De Regny added: “We are sure the players from Manchester will enjoy Baseball for the Blind Italian style.”
He then explained that many Italian players have enjoyed better mobility in everyday’s life thanks to the practice of running during Baseball for the Blind games.
The initiative also attracted interest from Baseball Softball UK, that has the intention to form a team in the London Area.