A decision to change up his sport of choice has paid dividends for Ned Brewer Maiga, with the 20 year-old soon set to represent his country on an international stage.
After swapping goalball for blind cricket in early 2016, Ned is set to be a part of the Australian squad for the Blind Cricket Twenty20 World Cup to be held in India later this month.
“I was playing goalball and then a friend asked me if I wanted to give blind cricket a go. I went along with them and gave it a go and I just really enjoyed it,” Ned said.
“I’ve always been pretty sporty, but the selection for the World Cup really came out of the blue It certainly wasn’t something I thought about at all when I started playing.”
For Ned, who has received support from Vision Australia in areas such as Braille training and orientation and mobility services, his sporty nature extends beyond participating, with 20 year-old currently in the midst of completing a Sport Development Traineeship which sees him mix work and study.
Despite his international selection coming just months after taking up the sport, Ned, who lives with low vision due retinitis pigmentosa, said he wasn’t a natural for the start.
“Initially there were a few things I struggled with and it took a while for me to pick them up. Once I worked them out I really started enjoying it.
“These days I’m a batsman, though I’m not sure where in the order I’ll bat when we’re in India.”
Blind cricket teams are made up of four totally blind players (B1), three partially blind players (B2) and four partially sighted players (B3). Ned’s level of vision makes him a B3 player.
While blind cricket has presented Ned with an opportunity to represent his country and play in cricket mad India, it has also offered something else valuable to him.
“Before I started playing I had no idea that there was this whole blind cricket world out there.
“It’s opened up this whole new community to me and that’s something I definitely enjoy as much as actually playing.”
The Blind Cricket Twenty20 World Cup will be held in India from January 28 – February 15.
For more information on blind cricket, head to Blind Cricket Australia's website here: blindcricket.org.au