Everyday Heroes: Sheraz Ali Chohan
Thirty-nine year old Mancunian Sheraz Ali Chohan has been passionate about cricket since his childhood. Sheraz muses, “my love for cricket is thanks to my father. He cricketed me out from a very young age. My father himself is totally blind so he would ask me to read out the runs to him off the TV screen.”
The game of cricket is perhaps the ultimate test of hand-eye co-ordination. Take away complete sight or part of it and it becomes a different challenge entirely. Sheraz himself suffers from retinitis pigmentosa which is a hereditary condition that leads to a gradual progressive reduction in vision. Sheraz suffers from night blindness and has about 5-10% visibility during the day.
Sheraz has always liked sports, however, felt that his visual impairment limited his ability to access a wide variety of them. The undoubtable reason as to why he established the Lancashire Lions Visually Impaired Cricket Club in 2011. Now the Lancashire Lions Sports Club that also offers multi-sports such as blind ten-pin bowling, goalball, yoga for the visually impaired and V.I table tennis.
Sheraz was always inspired by watching other sportsmen and women coach and participate so after almost 30 years on the metaphorical side-line he decided that “I’ve got limited sight but that still should not stop me from coaching. There are people out there with less sight than myself and they want to get involved in sports. Why not give myself that opportunity and others the same opportunity to get involved and play the sports that they enjoy.”
Sheraz’s enthusiasm for coaching is clear and his passionate nature and desire to create sporting opportunities for the visually impaired has been a rip roaring success. “What I enjoy the most about coaching is giving other people an opportunity. I coach not only in Manchester but in the whole of the Lancashire region, schools, colleges and the youth zones. I don’t coach just the visually impaired, I coach people with learning difficulties, hearing difficulties and also sighted youngsters. For me it makes me feel humble at night going back, having made sure that people have enjoyed their session but learnt something from it as well for them to progress.”
Unsurprisingly Sheraz’s biggest achievement and coaching highlight was setting up the Lancashire Lions. In relation to this he said “Designing my own coaching course and getting recognition and accreditation from the Lancashire Cricket Board and the England coach.” Sheraz is aspirational for his course to spread out to other regions as “for the members of Lancashire Lions to be able to go out into the community and be role models and show what they have learnt has been really powerful.”
Sheraz is a Level one and two cricket coach, not to mention being a qualified fitness instructor. You might be forgiven for thinking that there are specific qualifications for the visually impaired. However, this is simply not true. "My disadvantages have made my negatives into a positive. It’s not the model of no you can’t do, it’s the model of yes you can try and always learn along the way. That’s a very big aspect of coaching. Learning about the individuals or group’s needs.”
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