George Abraham (cricketer)

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George Abraham (born on 31 October 1958 in London) is a social worker. He is the founding Chairman of the World Blind Cricket Council (WBCC) and the Association for Cricket for the Blind in India (ACBI), he is also the founder of the SCORE Foundation in New Delhi that helps several visually impaired people live their life on their own terms by providing them with employment and teaching them new skills.

Early years[edit]

Abraham was born on 31 October 1958 in London. His father was an engineer from Kerala. At the age of ten months, Abraham suffered from meningitis which caused permanent damage to his optic nerve and retina, thus making him visually impaired.[1]

At the age of two, Abraham's family re-located to India. Around this time, Abraham's parents took a decision that would shape his future- to send him to mainstream school in spite of his disability. The decision however brought challenges. As Abraham schooled at La Martinirin Lucknow, Frank Anthony's in Delhi and Kendriya Vidyalaya in Hubli, keeping up academically with his peers was a struggle.

Abraham was unable to read his school books but his parents were determined to educate him in the mainstream. Abraham would do combined studies with his school friends. His mother read out the texts from school books and his father assisted him with mathematics. They instilled confidence in their son and this was to be his greatest strength.

Abraham was a keen debater and a dedicated athlete. Cricket was a passion.

Education and career[edit]

George Abraham was educated at the prestigious St. Stephen's College, Delhi where he graduated with an Honours degree in Mathematics in 1979. Abraham went on to gain a master's degree in Operations Research in 1981.

Advertising[edit]

Abraham started his career with ASP (Advertising and Sales Promotion Co) in New Delhi in 1982. In 1985 he joined advertising firm Ogilvy, Benson & Mather in Mumbai as Account Executive.

After re-locating to New Delhi, Abraham worked as a Freelance Consultant planning and producing communication material, training in communication skills development, organising seminars and inspirational speaking.

Blind cricket[edit]

In 1989 George Abraham visited a school for the blind in New Delhi. It struck him that the children there were made to feel inferior, handicapped and were left to believe that opportunities for them were limited or even non-existent. The incident had the impact of a hammer blow. Abraham realised that the blind needed opportunity not sympathy. They needed to be given the chance to become equal, productive, self-reliant and realise their dreams.

Abraham decided to quit his job and dedicate his life to working with the visually impaired.

A visit to Dehradun's National Institute for the Visually Handicapped lead Abraham to see the blind playing cricket. It was there that Abraham realised that cricket can be used as an effective tool to develop qualities of leadership, discipline, ambition, confidence, teamwork, competitive spirit besides contributing to physical fitness, posture and mobility. It also enables society to see a non-stereotypical image of blind people which is positive and action oriented.

In March 1990 Abraham wrote to noted cricketer Sunil Gavaskar informing of his plan to hold the first national cricket tournament for the blind. Gavaskar responded immediately saying that he would help in any way he could.

By December 1990, with the help of Tata Steel, Colgate Palmolive, the Limca Book of Records and the Delhi Rotary Club the inaugural Tata Steel Cricket Tournament for the Blind was held. Politician and then BCCI President Madhavrao Scindia became a patron. Congress President Rajiv Gandhi and Russi Mody were in attendance.

The event became an annual one and had sponsors ranging from Coca-Cola, Brooke Bond, Hindustan Lever Limited, Lipton, Kirloskar Electricals and Titan Watches.

To give the sport momentum, Abraham founded the Association for Cricket for the Blind in India (ACBI) in 1996.

Abraham was instrumental in setting up the World Blind Cricket Council (WBCC) in 1996.

Under his leadership, the inaugural Blind Cricket World Cup was held in New Delhi in November 1998. Seven countries participated. South Africa defeated Pakistan in the final while India and Australia were the two semi-finalists. The second Blind Cricket World Cup was held in Chennai, India in December 2002. Pakistan defeated South Africa in the finals. Pakistan hosted the third World Cup in Islamabad 2006. Pakistan won the final.

The fourth World Cup is scheduled for 2011.

In keeping with the evolution of cricket, the ACBI will be hosting the inaugural Indian Blind Cricket League (IBCL) 2010 in New Delhi. Teams will compete in a League come knock-out basis. The IBCL is set to revolutionise the game of blind cricket.

SCORE Foundation/Project Eyeway[edit]

In 2002, Abraham established the SCORE Foundation, a non-profit organisation which launched Project Eyeway as a single- stop knowledge resource for people living with blindness and low vision. Today Eyeway comprises the website www.eyeway.org, a weekly radio programme 'Yea Hai Roshni Ka Karwan' which is broadcast from 30 cities in India, the Eyeway helpdesk, the Eyeway news SMS service, the Eyeway Talking Book service and the Eyeway training service programme.

The dream is to reach out to every home in the country with information related to life with blindness. The object is to share information that is informative, inspirational and empowering. Abraham believes that the real problem is not the blindness, it is the mindset.

Project Eyeway endeavours to use the power of knowledge to address the issues of mindset change.

Magiktuch[edit]

In 2004, Abraham along with a friend Navroze Dhondy established Magiktouch Talent Management PVT LTD to identify, groom and promote musicians who are visually impaired. Concerts have been organised at New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Washington and Amman.

Disability rights movement[edit]

Abraham actively participated in the movement that campaigned for the Persons With Disability Act 1995 in India and the inclusion of disability in the 2001 Indian National Census.

Community outreach[edit]

George Abraham was involved in the establishment of the Vision Enhancement Center at the Shroff's Charity Eye Hospital, New Delhi helping individuals with low vision.

This also included the development of the Pediatric Ophthalmology Rehabilitation Programme in the Alwar district of Rajasthan

George Abraham dreamed of being a fast bowler like Dennis Lillee, a singer like Kishor Kumar and a performer like Amitabh Bachchan.

George Abraham married Rupa in 1986, a horticulturist and is the father of two daughters Neha and Tara.

Awards and accolades[edit]

In 1996 Abraham was chosen to run in the Olympic Torch Relay in the Atlanta Olympics. Abraham received the Sanskriti Award in 1993. He received the Rotary Vocation Award in 1996. In 2003 Abraham was awarded the Rotary for the Sake of Honour Award. In 2001 Abraham was elected as an Ashoka Fellow. In 2007 George Abraham was chosen as a Limca Book of Records People of the Year for his contribution to Blind Cricket and his work with Project Eyeway along with the likes of A R Rahman and Mahesh Bhupati. Abraham has been featured on Discovery Channel's Discovery People. He was part of the Aviva Forward Thinkers 2007 TV campaign. In 2008, Abraham was featured on Channel 5's Paul Merton in India which aired in the UK.

Articles and publications[edit]

  • Abraham is one of the authors of Chicken Soup for the Indian Spiritual Soul (2010). ISBN 9789380283272
  • Handbook of Inclusive Education for Educators, Administrators and Planners' (2004) by Madhumita Puri and George Abraham. ISBN 0-7619-3266-6
  • Abraham had a column in The Indian Express called "Talking from Within" in 1995 about personal insights into disability and living with disabilities.
  • Abraham had a column in The Asian Age called "Heart Talk" in 2003 about the ICC World Cup in South Africa.

External links[edit]

References[edit]