- Title: Following bells and beeps, blind Cubans take the field for baseball
- Date: 26th May 2017
- Summary: HAVANA, CUBA (RECENT) (REUTERS) MEMBERS OF CUBAN BLIND BASEBALL TEAM WALKING WITH WHITE CANES TO GUIDE THEM PLAYERS WALKING WITH WHITE CANES TOWARDS PITCH PLAYERS AND SPECTATORS WALKING TOWARDS PITCH BLIND PLAYER, EDDY DUVERGEL, HITTING BALL AND RUNNING DUVERGEL RUNNING TO FIRST BASE WHILST SPECTATOR CLAPS TO GUIDE HIM DUVERGEL ARRIVING AT HOME PLATE, TEAM MEMBERS CONGRATULATE HIM (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BLIND BASEBALL PLAYER, EDDY DUVERGEL, SAYING: "Great joy, when you score a home run the team comes forward, they just won two more runs that brings great joy, at least for the player it brings great pride." PLAYER WITH A EYES COVERED HITTING BALL PLAYER CATCHING AND THROWING BALL PLAYER CATCHING BALL (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) MEMBER OF BLIND BASEBALL TEAM AND SPORTS TEACHER, YUBIS ZAPATA, SAYING: "Everyone who is able to practice it, whose body and mind allows it, I recommend they do it, because it will help them physically, their health, but also to liberate some of those things that sometimes feel far away. Here we socialize, talk, share, recreate and on top of that we practice sport." YOUNG PEOPLE WATCHING THE BLIND BASEBALL MATCH PLAYERS RETRIEVING AND THROWING BALL PLAYER SLIDING AT BASE (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) MEMBER OF BLIND BASEBALL TEAM AND GRADUATE IN REHABILITATION AND PHYSIOTHERAPY, CARLOS MANUEL LORENZO FUENTES, SAYING: "Sport has helped me in some ways as a form of rehabilitation to orientate myself spatially, to stimulate certain audio receptors which then help me in my day to day activities." PLAYER RETRIEVING BALL WITH BELLS PLAYER HITTING BALL BLIND BASEBALL TEAM COACH, ROBERTO CARMONA, BANGING INSTRUMENTS TO ORIENTATE PLAYER SPECTATOR BANGING INSTRUMENTS AS PLAYER RUNS TO BASE (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BLIND BASEBALL TEAM COACH, ROBERTO CARMONA, SAYING: "One of Cuba's greatest ambitions at the moment is to end in the top three in an international Paralympic event, and without a doubt we could end in first place." BLIND PLAYERS SPEAKING OUTSIDE THE PITCH PLAYERS' SHADOWS BLIND PLAYERS WALKING WITH WHITE CANES PLAYERS SITTING IN STANDS OF STADIUM PLAYERS WALKING BETWEEN STANDS
- Embargoed: 9th June 2017 06:15
- Keywords: blind baseball league for the blind eyesight
- Location: HAVANA, CUBA
- City: HAVANA, CUBA
- Country: Cuba
- Topics: Baseball,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA0016IH3TC3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Yubis Zapata had to stop playing baseball when he lost his eyesight during military service due to an explosion, so for him, it's a miracle now to be able to play once more, in Cuba's growing league for the blind.
Baseball has long been a national passion in Cuba but this version has only caught on in recent years. Now there's no stopping the blind champs, who train several times a week and even participate in international tournaments.
Zapata and his teammates say they hope the sport will be included as a discipline in the 2020 Paralympics in Japan so they can bring home the trophy for Cuba that traditionally punches above its weight in sports.
The 41-year old said the sport helps him feel liberated and provides a place for him to socialise, speaking at a training session in the capital where players wore crisp white uniforms with a Cuban flag on the chest.
The players, who are blind or visually impaired, say baseball has helped them refine their sense of orientation by sound. The ball has jingle-type bells inside so that fielders can hear where it lands and scramble for it.
Carlos Fuentes, 32, a physical therapist, who lost his sight in recent years said improving his spatial orientation through the sport has helped him in his everyday activities.
Meanwhile the first base is a beeping mat, while players clap paddles at second and third base to orient runners. There is no pitcher; the batter both throws and hits the ball.
Passers-by often stop to watch the training sessions taking place under a scorching Caribbean sun.
The game was developed in Italy in the 1970s and brought over to Cuba by Italian coaches in the early 2000s, who also provided the equipment. Enthusiasts say it is more truthful to the original sport than its American parallel, beep baseball.
Blind baseball is now being played in five provinces throughout Cuba, coach Roberto Carmona said. There is no age or gender limit for players and even sighted people can play as long as they wear a blindfold.
When there is a change of team, the players with some albeit low vision lead the others out to their positions. They follow in a row, hand on shoulder.
For Carmona, Cuba's greatest aspiration is to end in the top three of an international Paralympic event, and with blind baseball he believes they could reach number one.
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