Bengaluru set to make its presence felt in International bilateral wheelchair cricket
Indian para sportspersons are making their mark, both at the national and international level. A large part of the credit goes to the sportspersons and to the organizations that are backing them.
In Bengaluru, the Divyaang Myithri Sports Academy is playing a major part in identifying talented players in rural areas and training them.
Their dedication has paid off with two players from the academy selected for the upcoming Bilateral Wheelchair Cricket Tournament in Dubai in September.
Wheelchair Cricket India (WCI) has chosen Shivaprasad S and Tippeswamy Madiwal to represent India for this event. The matches will take place at Ajman from 17 to 20 September.
Shivaprasad, 32, is a Human Resources officer at a private company in Bengaluru. A wheelchair user for many years, he is passionate about cricket.
We have been practicing a lot for the series. We hope to make our country proud. We are confident about it.- Shivaprasad S, wheelchair cricket player.
The players have been practicing regularly at the Divyaang Myithri centre for the past two years. They hope their achievement will attract the attention of the state government and help raise some funds. The group is in desperate need for support. Purchasing wheelchairs and other sports equipment costs a lot of money and official support is a must.
At present, there are 40 aspiring wheelchair cricket players. The academy plans to include other para sports like table tennis, basketball and tennis as well.
"Disabled sportspersons in India struggle on many fronts", points out Dilip Kumar Gowda, co-founder of the academy. "This is the case when it comes to funds, facilities, and training. In urban areas, there is still growing awareness and access. However, in rural areas, para sportspersons need advice, guidance, and motivation. Our primary focus is on reaching out to people here."
While there is growing awareness and respect for para sports, the struggle is uphill. Thanks to the support of cricket legends like Sachin Tendulkar, who helped fund the national wheelchair cricket team's tour to Bangladesh earlier this year, there is hope in sight.
"Karnataka is a powerhouse of cricket players. Over the years, we have seen how players from our state has done exceptionally well in international matches. We need more corporates and organizations to come forward and help us", says Shivaprasad.
The players will leave for Delhi on 16 September, where they will undergo a one-day training session before flying to Dubai.