Cricket is not just a game in India but an emotion. The sport sees surging emotion whose power can overcome everything. More than a hundred wheelchair cricketers are showcasing their skills and love for cricket on the field in the ongoing Indian wheelchair cricket premier league (IWPL), Season 3. It is being organized at Bal Bhavan International School, Sector 12, Dwarka. 8 teams from different states are participating in the league.
CitySpidey talked to some wheelchair cricketers who have overcome all odds for the love of the game.
Salman (21), from Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, says, “I wanted to be a cricketer and play for India since childhood. At the age of 4, because of chicken pox medicine reaction, I lost the power of standing on my own feet. I was very depressed at that time and cried a lot but when I saw other people’s conditions in the hospital, I felt a little blessed about what I had. From that day, I focused on the positive aspect of life. I started bodybuilding and worked as a fitness coach. A few years back, one of my cousins told me about wheelchair cricket and my journey started from there."
He further adds, “In this tournament, I’m playing as an opener bowler and I do batting too for the Kolkata team. I’m the team captain of the Uttar Pradesh wheelchair team. The day I started playing cricket I stopped feeling depressed. Looking back, life would not be incomplete without my legs but without cricket."
Deepak Sinha (33), from Nepal, says “This is the first time I’m playing IWPL from Kolkata’s team. I lost the ability to walk at 3 because of Polio. Like any differently-abled person, I too faced many struggles in life. I used to play gully cricket in Nepal but my inner self always questioned how could I play cricket professionally while sitting in this wheelchair? I read about Wheelchair cricket, joined the DCCBI, and started playing cricket. That was the best decision of my life and I’m very happy."
Abhay (35), from Orissa, was born normal but lost the ability to walk at the age of 2 because of Polio. He says, "When you are not standing on your feet from childhood, everyone looks at you differently. I faced lots of challenges and I'm proud of myself and thanked my parents for their support. I got selected in Kolkata's team from Orissa trials in 2019. Things are difficult when you are differently-abled, but nothing can stop you if you can control your mind and think positively."
CitySpidey also talked to Ghazal Khan, CEO, Divyang Cricket Control Board of India (DCCBI). Her father Haroon Rasheed is the founder and General Secretary of DCCBI and she got the inspiration from him to do something for differently-abled people.
“Since childhood, I saw my father work very hard for differently-abled people. In 2014, I started working with him as a volunteer and now I am the CEO of DCCBI. I feel wheelchair cricket is more entertaining and tough than normal cricket. The hard work the players do is truly inspiring. They don’t worry about their disability and dive from their wheelchairs to stop the ball. It is these efforts that have motivated us to work for them with full dedication so they can get the right platform to showcase their skills.
She further added, “We started from a very small scale and people had mixed reactions, in the beginning, no one could have imagined such a concept. However, we knew how much it meant to us and the players. This year in December, India is going to organize its very first Wheelchair Cricket World Cup in Gujarat. We are very excited because it’s going to be a huge event. We have already started preparing for it. Also, next January we are going to Pakistan to play wheelchair cricket Asia Cup-2. At, present, wheelchair cricket is gaining a lot of popularity worldwide."