Mandangad (Ratnagiri): Retired cricket great Sachin Tendulkar on Tuesday said he was fascinated by the way visually-impaired play the game he dominated for close to two-and-a-half decades, adding that has learnt a few things from them.
"I inaugurated the blind cricket tournament about 14-15 years ago in Mumbai and I was fascinated by the way they play cricket, because you just hear and react to that. And you score runs and get wickets and you feel all those kinds of things. They are unbelievable and I was fascinated to see all that," Tendulkar told PTI here.
"It was a new experience for me and I learnt a few things from them. I was glad to be there and this was immediately after we had won the Ranji Trophy and the next day it was a different form of cricket. Two different things but the crux of the whole thing is that they are as passionate about cricket as we are and that is what matters," said the 40-year-old cricket legend.
Tendulkar, who is the UNICEF`s ambassador for the South Asia region, visited a school for visually impaired children -- Snehajyoti Nivasi Andha Vidhyalaya (Snehajyoti residential school for the blind) -- in the interior part of Maharashtra and taught them the techniques of hand wash.
Tendulkar`s maternal aunt operates the school.
"My mother told me more about this place. It is quite a drive from Mumbai and it was remarkable to spend time with visually challenged children, who actually are so talented. My mother introduced this place to me.
"In fact it`s my aunt who has been involved with this school for the last ten years from Mumbai. My mother used to keep talking about her commitment. She has left Mumbai for the last ten years and she spends all her time over here with children, teaching them how to live life, how to improve their future and give some direction. And that is really important. Also to make them realise the things they are capable of doing," he said.
The multiple record-setting batsman and first sportsperson to be conferred with the Bharat Ratna award said lack of awareness among people about hygiene and sanitation is one of the biggest hurdles to scale.
"I think it is about awareness and as many people as we can find, who can spread this message across. That is why I got three four kids to promise me that they are going to spread this message. There is a way to clean hands and I showed them the technique," Tendulkar said.
"They have promised me that in my next visit, whenever there is, they will not disappoint me. So I hope the entire (Gharadi) village knows by the time we come back again, how to wash hands and how important it is to wash hands.
"At some stage, we will have a majority of our nation aware of all these things, it is just about spreading awareness," he added.
The iconic batsman also told the children the importance of water conservation.
"I taught even during washing hands how important it is to save water. Use water as much as we need and not more than our requirement. There are certain authorities who look into developing our nation and if we all make an effort rather than saying these guys don`t do anything, we should see what are the things we can do and that way we can change," he said.
The Rajya Sabha MP said that people lose lives because of their ignorance on hygiene and sanitation which prompted him to promote this cause.
According to UNICEF almost half the population in India defecates in the open and Tendulkar said, "There are certain guys who have the authority to change certain things. And those things need to be looked into. Somewhere it has to start. This is one step that we have started."
"I find it difficult to accept that there are not enough washrooms on the way, wherever you are travelling. There should be some facilities where women can use washroom. Men sometimes have easy access but it is (also) about dignity.
"It is about giving them respect, because if you are travelling for eight to ten hours, you can`t expect not to use a washroom. It is about giving them enough respect and providing them the right facilities."
The batting maestro praised the visually impaired children for their singing talents by calling them uncut diamonds and said he was confident that they would grow up to be great singers.
"I spotted some amazing singing talent. A couple of them also told me how they play chess, they play cricket, so they do everything. As far as their awareness is concerned, they are miles ahead of all of us.
"When the team was singing, one of the singers had microphone close to his mouth and the awareness was such that they other guy pulled the mike a little away from his mouth. Things which we don`t realise, they pick it like that, so they have got to be ahead of us," he said.