A Bolton man is heading to Euros after being has been named in the GB blind baseball team.

Big-hitting Tokeer Akhtar, 35, who turned out for the English blind cricket team is now trying his hand at the sport of baseball.

Tokeer was not born blind but in his mid-20s began to lose his sight due to a hereditary condition – Retinitis Pigmentosa.

In his teens and as a youngster, he was a keen cricketer, good with both bat and ball.

Earlier this year he was the only player from Lancashire Lions to be selected for England cricket during the latest trials.

The slogger said: “I have always been competitive and enjoyed playing sports from a young age.

“But then life took a turn in 2012 when I stopped playing any competitive games. I used to play football and cricket as would anyone else.

“I thought that was it and stopped playing.

“Ten years later I was introduced to blind sports and I found more about the Lancashire Lions.”

Now, he has been selected to play for the Team GB baseball team. The side are heading to Italy to take part in the European championships against other blind teams from across the continent.

Tokeer said: “In the past year I decided to try the baseball out and we are heading to Italy to play next month.

“There will be teams from across Europe there. 

“I hope to do well and in March next year there are the World Championships.

“In baseball, you have to hit the ball out of your hand within a certain distance and then run to the second base before the fielding team get the ball back into second base. At each base there is a sound to guide you.”

The Bolton News:

Blind Baseball originated in Italy more than 20 years ago, created by an ex-baseball player.

Since then the game has gone global with the hope that eventually the game will be played at the Paralympics.

Countries currently active include Italy, Cuba, USA, Germany, France and Pakistan with Japan and Argentina recently creating teams.

In 2018 the game was brought to the UK following a connection between Lancashire Lions Visually Impaired Sports Club and the Italian founders.

The UK Blind Baseball Association (UKBBA) was officially formed in January 2020 to proactively govern Blind Baseball in the UK.

Tokeer, who grew up in Deane Road, says he has learnt about the opportunities available for the visually impaired in recent years.

He added: “I was amazed by the amount of activities out there for the visually impaired. I was amazed this world existed.

“I know there maybe be people out there who may not know these opportunities exist. I can imagine people being depressed and left out of society.

“Since I have joined, I have brought in other people. Their families never though they would be getting involved in sports.”

Team GB Baseball are hoping to raise funds to help with their visit to Italy. You can support them here