Imagine. Being blindfolded and eating a meal.
Imagine. Being blindfolded and taking a shower. Sounds hard?
Imagine. Being blindfolded and playing tennis. Impossible you say? I guess not.
Blind Tennis, founded in Japan by Miyoshi Takei, is aiming to be an official event at Paralympics. His simple dream was to enjoy sports like everyone else even though he was visually impaired.
Tennis for the blind? Is it even possible? How can a sport that relies so heavily on hand-eye coordination be adapted to enable the blind to enjoy it as well? I think we get so caught up in our own lives that we fail to recognize how beautifully the differently abled have adapted.
Firstly, the tennis ball is made out of foam and contains a small ping pong ball with metal beads that rattle upon impact. The visually impaired listen to this sound and time their swing, direction, and height to take their shot accordingly. If you’re totally blind you’re allowed three bounces, those with partial sight are allowed two. Just like standard tennis, you can play singles or doubles. Also, they use special rackets with larger head size and shorter handles. Lastly, the lines on the tennis court are made with strings such that the players can feel these lines below their feet.
Blind tennis was founded in 1984 in Japan and spread to South Korea, Singapore, and China. However, till 2010, it was yet to reach the West. In February 2014, the International Blind Tennis Association (IBTA) was launched to regulate the sport and spread it around the world. It is currently played in more than 30 countries in 5 continents and will soon be a Paralympic sport.
We take so many things for granted, our ability to see is one of them. Stories like these should inspire us to believe once again that ‘sky is the limit’. It always seems impossible unless it’s done. A visually impaired person will soon be playing tennis in the Paralympics, what’s your excuse for not going after the impossible?