I want to be Captain Cool, like M S Dhoni – My Take by Ankita Singh, Captain, Delhi Blind Cricket team
Spunky and articulate, Ankita Singh is the captain of the Delhi blind women's cricket team. In My Take, the 26-year-old shares her future plans, and there are many!
A sports teacher at the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped (NIVH) in Dehradun got me hooked to cricket when I was around 13 years old. I used to see senior students play the game and I was eager to try out.
There were barely any girls who wanted to play though, so I started off in a mixed team, of boys and girls. There were just three girls at the time and playing against the boys was tough and scary because they threw much faster and harder. Now when I look back, that experience was invaluable because it helped me to become a better player and get chosen for the Delhi team.
My interest in cricket continued even after I left NIVH in 2012. I finished my school education when I was older as I was eight years old when I joined a school. I lost my vision when I was two years old after a bout of chicken pox. My parents had no idea there were facilities like blind schools etc. so I started studying much later.
I grew up in Allahabad where there were no blind schools at the time, so my father decided to send me to Dehradun to study at NIVH. My mother was reluctant, but my father was supportive and told me to tell her one sentence every day - 'I would study and grow up to be someone important.' So daily, I would tell my mother this and she eventually relented.
Rock solid family support
I give a lot of credit to my family for their support. My father is not an educated man, but very progressive and never allowed me to feel any less because I was disabled. As a child, he would take me all over India and I have traveled a lot. My family is proud of my achievements. I was a school topper in classes 10 and 12 and when my picture appeared in the newspapers, my family was very happy.
Even when I told them I wanted to pursue cricket seriously, they backed me. All they want is my safety, so they tell me to make sure someone accompanies me. This attitude has been my biggest strength. I have taken part in athletics at the national level. I also do theatre at the university level on social issues like gender discrimination and sanitation.
My goal is to make it to the Indian women's blind cricket team. I want to play for my country and much depends on how I perform at the national meet in February 2019. I bat and bowl, but my skills with the bat are strongest, although I need to work on a few things. I think I am best at fielding. If we had access to grounds, I could practice more and improve my game.
The lack of grounds is something the Delhi blind women cricketers struggles for on a regular basis. We are made up of students from different colleges in the Delhi University, so no college will give us a ground. This means we are able to start practicing only 15 days before a tournament.
As a child, I was inspired by Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif. Kaif is also from Allahabad like me, so he was my hero. After M S Dhoni
I have a career goal as well and that is to teach Hindi. I will finish my M.A in Hindi from Miranda House next year and I plan to enroll for a Ph.D. I have the qualifications to teach in a school and I plan to pick up more teaching degrees.