Wheelchair basketball players get a fresh lease of life at Sittruli in Coimbatore
Para sports are becoming very popular in India. Even though para sports were first introduced during World War 2, it took quite some time to reach India. Last week, the Indian wheelchair cricket team brought laurels to the country after winning a bilateral series against Pakistan in UAE. Undoubtedly, wheelchair basketball is one of the most popular para sports in India now. Sittruli, an NGO in Coimbatore, focuses on promoting wheelchair basketball in and around the city of Coimbatore.
Sittruli was founded in August 2017 by Gunasekharan and Prem Kumar. This NGO is just a year old. But they have already trained players who have reached national level games!
We decided to start Sittruli because we wanted people on wheelchairs to come out of their homes and explore the world around them. Ours is a one of its kind's initiatives. I know of centres in Chennai and Vellore. But Coimbatore never had one. We recently conducted an awareness camp where we spread the importance of para sports. Since childhood, I wanted to do something for the disabled community. I felt encouraging them to take up sports was the best thing. - Gunasekharan, Co-founder, Sittruli
Now, there are over 13 aspiring wheelchair basketball players who undergo rigorous training sessions at a venue in Decathlon. They are aged between 18 to 35 years. But they all have one thing in common. Their love for basketball knows no boundaries! Under the training of national level player Rajan, these wheelchair basketball players are aiming high. Their training sessions happen every Sunday.
Being an NGO, Sittruli faces many challenges. The primary one is lack of transport to get players to training centres. Since Coimbatore does not have many cabs or services for wheelchair users, Sittruli takes a lot of time in transporting them to centres. They also aim to start their own training centre with the help of donors. An accessible basketball court will make things easier for players. Initially, they could afford only the normal wheelchairs. They also need to procure more sports wheelchairs so that more aspiring players can join them.
"I'am not waiting for the government to help us. I know that is going to be a long and tedious process. I would rather have kind and generous souls helping us. We already have a few. We plan to expand our venture to other parts of Tamil Nadu after our centre in Coimbatore becomes successful", says Gunasekharan.