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Dilip Kumar Gowda is determined to unearth para sports talent in rural India

July 1, 2019

Dilip Kumar Gowda, a wheelchair tennis player from Karnataka, has represented his state and India at many international tournaments. As co-founder of Divyaang Myithri Sports Academy in Bengaluru, he aims to give opportunities to other para sportspersons as well.

Even as a child Dilip Kumar Gowda was passionate about sports. Pursuing that passion as a wheelchair user was not easy but giving up was out of the question. Today, as a professional wheelchair tennis player, Dilip is giving an opportunity to aspiring para sportsmen.

Dilip, who is form Mandya, Karnataka, was struck by polio when he was hardly three months old. After graduation he moved to Bengaluru to pursue his passion for sports. He was fortunate to get the opportunity for training in wheelchair tennis and went onto play for India at various international-level matches. He is also a permanent member of the Karnataka wheelchair tennis team.

Dilip and a few other para sportspersons have come together to launch Divyaang Myithri Sports Academy in Bengaluru to promote para sports in Karnataka. Dilip, who comes from a small town, says he is well aware of the struggles people with disabilities face when it comes to pursuing sports.

A few of us who are passionate about sports started Divyaang Myithri to promote para ports. I want aspiring para sportsmen from economically backward families to come forward and do their best to represent our country at international platforms. Personally, I have been striving for that over the past few months. The progress is slow but I am definitely getting there-Dilip Kumar Gowda, Co-founder, Divyaang Myithri Sports Academy

Over the past few months, Gowda has reached out to almost 120 disabled people with donations of wheelchairs and callipers. He says there are many hurdles when it comes to promoting para sports in India, like lack of accessible stadia, sports complexes and sports grounds. "My dream is to have accessible places so that para sportsmen can work on their skills. Everything must be available under one roof. When it comes to accessibility of para sports talent, India is way behind than other countries, says Dilip.

One of the biggest challenges faced is lack of adequate funding which means para sportspersons have to fund their trips to other countries when they play for India. Dilip and his team members have been in talks with state government officials for help. Until date, nothing substantial has come out of it. But I hope for the best, he says.

Dilip is unfazed by these struggles and says para sportspersons should not give up. "Today might not be in your favour, but tomorrow definitely will be. Believe in yourself and keep practicing without losing hope. Hard-work and determination is going to help you come a long way.

Dilip's positive spirit has won him the admiration of many colleagues. Shivprasad S, Vice-captain, Indian Wheelchair Cricket team and a co-founder of the academy is among them. "Dilip has been working relentlessly for the development of para sports across the country. He has inspired many people including me, says Shiv.

ALSO READ: Ireland win puts para shuttler Pramod Bhagat among contenders for Tokyo Paralympics

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