Sachin Tendulkar & accessibility
More than five years ago, Sachin Tendulkar played his final International match, fittingly at his beloved Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. It was the only match of his career that his mother witnessed from the stands. For many wheelchair users it was surprising considering she was on a wheelchair due to old age. They didn’t know that the stadium, previously inaccessible, was rid of the barriers that faced them and obstructed them, i.e, improved accessibility.
Turns out, it was a temporary arrangement just so she and Sachin’s coach, the recently deceased Mr.Ramakant Achrekar could be there at the ground for such an occasion.
It was also revealed that India and the world’s cricketing great, personally oversaw things and made sure the arrangements were done properly. If a cricketer who was retiring could enable the stadium and the state cricket officials to ensure accessibility, even on a temporary basis, then why wasn’t it done before for lots of passionate cricket fans on wheelchairs. It’s a given that Tendulkar was not just a ‘cricketer’ he was and still for most in India, a God. But, aren’t fans worth the same if not more as they are the ones who encourage the player when down, go crazy when they perform well and above all creating an incredible at atmosphere for sport.
Step in the right direction
A year ago, some IPL teams did decide to provide temporary access throughout the edition for differently able bodied people. Although a welcome action this was already 4 years too late, as there was the option to do this beforehand, this point is proven by how access was enabled during a ‘particular’ match way back in 2013. This in no way is a dig on Sachin Tendulkar or his family but just an attempt in bringing to light that an initiative taken for a superstar’s mom should also bear the public, the fans who actually make this game live such a long, loved life in mind.
How accessibility Helps
Making accessibility a priority is a step that doesn’t only favour the disabled community but the game of cricket in itself. How, one may ask? Well, we all acknowledge the fact the crowds for Test Cricket have been dwindling in volume for some time now. Although the issue is not as alarming in One Day cricket, one can clearly see at least some decrease in attendance for matches in select cricket stadia.
Providing accessibility and other facilities for those different in their conditions but with the same if not more undying passion for the game would definitely help with the crowd in its own, small way. A lot of people from this community enjoy the purest form of the game more than the other formats, so that is the main point in saying that access and infrastructure for them will help cricket. ODIs will also benefit nicely as the decrease in crowd is relatively minimal.
The 2019 IPL also sees those temporary accessibility arrangements again and a lot of people will be thankful for it. It is indeed a great step. But in terms of improving crowd numbers T20 leagues don’t need more help do they! Temporary arrangements for every/some series will help, but it’s much more arduous and costly than just doing it once and doing it right. This might mean a degree of reconstruction in some grounds but even that wouldn’t be as costly as making temporary arrangements for days, months and years to come. After all everybody deserves to experience the exuberance of watching their favourite team from the stands