Blind Cricket South Africa (BCSA) has lodged a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission, after Cricket South Africa pulled funding ahead of the 2014 World Cup that was to be held in South Africa this week. The organization says they have now been left with a mountain of debt. Blind Cricket SA President Francois Neethling said they feel the cricketers were being unfairly discriminated.
“Cricket South Africa contacted us a week before the world cup and said that they need to pull the plug and we had to bear the repercussions of that. Countries like Australia and England had already paid their airfare and we will have to pay them back, with money we don’t have,” Neethling said.
“As a disabled team, disabled sport and the disabled players we feel that Cricket South Africa or even the department of sports and recreation did not give the proper recognition to the players, for representing their country in this World Cup and even supporting them,” said Neethling.
The team is made up of professional players and yet they are being treated differently due because of their disability, Neethling said. Sporting clothing and branding made for the team was not even in the national colours, he added.
Blind Cricket SA filed the complaint on 3 December, which coincided with International Day for Persons with Disabilities.
“It has put us in shame to cancel an entire world cup which was scheduled to take place now but now the government is quick to say there is no funding, after making a large amount of money last year. And to crown it all they did not turn up or support the team in any way,” asserted Neethling.
But Haroon Lorgat, the chief executive of Cricket South Africa said he only met the organizers of Blind Cricket Western Cape for the first time only a few days ago.
“Organizing a World Cup is a serious responsibility and the need to plan well in advance, to secure the necessary resources in advance and to follow due process is common sense,” Lorgat said in a statement.
The CSA has offered support on condition that they succeeded in accessing Lotto funding on their behalf. He said they were fully aware of this and kept abreast that this was not forthcoming.
“I must point out that due process has not been followed in securing funding of the magnitude that was sought. We cannot deviate from the accepted standards of corporate governance that we have set for ourselves and our limited funds cannot be dished out without being approved by the appropriate Board committees,” added Lorgat.
He said disabled cricketers are important stake-holders of CSA and they will “always support them” in the best way that they can.
Given the dire and urgent need for funding, BCSA approached many organisations such as Western Province Cricket club, the local government in the WC, the City of Cape Town as well as League of friends of the Blind. VOC (Imogen Vollenhoven)