Striving for your dream when the odds are against you is certainly a difficult thing, but for Shamiel Howley, who has hearing loss, it is simply another day on the field.
A longstanding member of the Deaf Cricket South Africa Team, Howley was on the national side from 1995 to 2014 and has played in two World Cups, a Tri-Nation and toured Australia, India and Dubai. He is also a qualified cricket coach with a Level 2 certificate.
Now aged 43, Howley has been playing cricket since the age of 16. He first lived in Surrey Estate before moving to Manenberg, Cape Town, where he has been living for the last 37 years. As a youngster, he played mostly with hearing players at the Sherwood/Manenberg Cricket Club.
Howley says he loves all parts of the game but particularly managing difficult feats. “My favourite is when I get a hat trick, or hit three 4s in a row, or catch in the 2nd slip at ankle height.”
When playing at international level, deaf cricket rules dictate that the players are not permitted to wear hearing aids.
“When I bat, the batsman at the non-striking side will look at me and look at the ball, too. I will call him to come or hold my hand up showing a stop sign. Cricket has its own sign language on and off the field,” he explains.
Howley explains how conventional sign language has unexpected advantages on the cricket field. “Like when you swing the ball when you bowl,” he says, “I will always stand with my back towards the batsman and do a sign.”
When he is not out on the sports field, he enjoys his day job as a front of house driver for the Park Inn by Radisson Newlands, Cape Town, where he has worked for the last four and a half years. The hotel is unique in that DeafSA owns 51% and commits to employing hearing impaired and deaf staff members in a plethora of roles, from administrative clerks to pastry chefs.
Currently, 19% of the staff contingent at the hotel is hearing impaired. The hotel also stands out for its annual “Signtember” campaign every September, which aims to raise awareness around deafness and sign language.
Before joining Radisson, Howley worked in the deliveries and distribution sector for 20 years for companies such as Imperial and DHL. He went to school at The Dominican School for the Deaf before starting his career. He is a fluent lip reader and is hearing-aid-assisted, which allows him to converse more easily.
“I like being on the road, meeting new people, making new friends, talking to the guests,” he says of his current position. “I get to see and experience new things every day through my work. Being there to help the guests when they need it is also what I enjoy the most.”
While he loves his job, cricket remains his true passion.
“I have always wanted to be a full-time cricket coach. That was and is still my dream. However, at the moment I do enjoy my job at the Park Inn by Radisson.”
Howley never lets his disability stand between him and his passion, proving that your goals can be achieved no matter how impossible they may seem.