• READER STORY: Olivier’s new bat

    Brigitte Provoyeur-Bernardo shares the inspiring story of her son, Olivier, of his love for cricket… and how he finally got a new cricket bat!

    I want to tell you my inspiring cricket story, it happens to be about my son, Olivier.

    Olivier was born 13 years ago, with brain damage. I was a single mom and did not believe the doctor and her theory at that time. The brain scan that Olivier had at the age of two days could also not identify exactly where the brain damage was. So we carried on with life, but I will never forget what that lady doctor told me – she warned that it will show one day in Olivier’s life, maybe at age 3 or 5 or 10.

    Oliver was slow to walk, talk and had very low muscle tone, and as a result, years and years of therapy followed.

    At the age of 4, Olivier’s stepfather started to play cricket with him in the garden. I think Olivier could bowl before he could talk, and he had the perfect action then already. Of course, he loved to bat – all kids do, I guess. He used to beg us every day, ‘please bowl to me, just 10 balls, mommy’ which inevitably became 10 more and then a further 10 more…

    At primary school, Olivier played first team cricket and was the best bowler in the team. He was popular due to his cricket, but the kids could already see that he was different. Unfortunately, Olivier could not stay in a ‘normal school’ from Grade 3, as he needed special help that he could only get from being in smaller classes, and with the assistance of more specific and specialised teachers.

    We then joined him up with a cricket club so he could continue playing the game he so loved. He was quite high up in the bowling line-up at age 10, he never missed Friday night practice… and he never ever missed a match!

    I don’t think I missed any either!

    The highlight of my motherhood has been watching Olivier play cricket – a child born with a disability, physical and mental, yet still able to do what he loves. If we go to the mall (I hate shopping, but sometimes it’s inevitable!) he bowls the whole way from the entrance to the exit!

    Olivier stopped growing around the age of 8, as he has growth hormone deficiency, so has to be injected with hormones daily (would you not hate that?). As a result he is very thin, although he eats so much. He has ADHD and impulse control, some defiance disorder (can’t remember the name), he has aphraxia, and only half of the teeth that we have. He is socially and emotionally four years below his age, and the list goes on…

    Despite everything life has put in his path, he always remains positive, no matter what, and no matter how many kids ignored him because they simply can’t understand him, or made fun of him, as he is not the same as them.

    Olivier has just played his last U13 match at the club, as he will now start high school. We have made the most amazing cricket families, friends that have supported Olivier over the past five years. As the other boys in the club grew stronger and taller and got better at their cricket, Oliver has not reached their level, for obvious reasons, but he has never stopped loving the game, never stopped being positive, and never lost his passion for cricket.

    Olivier took five wickets during their recent Worcester tour – of course, I was in tears and he did a victory dance after each wicket! Happiness is…

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    We are hoping to still participate in cricket matches, as his school does enter for the ELSEN schools tournament and he is part of the team.

    A quick funny story: his stepdad told him that if he made his 10 runs (Olivier has never made more than 7 runs, and mostly goes out on the first ball – many tears that I have had to wash away) he could get a new bat.

    At our internal ‘nitebash’, Olivier somehow got all the boys on his team and the boys on the other team – AND the umpires we think – to help him get his 12 runs! The opponent fielding side managed to drop catches, bowl extra slowly, balls rolling to the boundary between legs, and wow, all the parents on the sidelines screaming for Olivier! Well, he got his new bat in the end…

    We love cricket!

    Thanks and I hope that this story will inspire kids with special needs to do what you love: you can do it! Remain positive and remember, God will never put in your path what you cannot handle.

     – Olivier Provoyeur-Bernardo (aged 13, submitted by his mom)

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    Simon Lewis