Nothing binds us together quite like sport. Implicit in leading a good, wholesome life- plied with some adventure and team spirit- is playing a sport and the importance it carries in enabling us to become more resolute, determined beings. But not everyone has the freedom or the happiness to take to a sport. Isn’t it? What about those who are physically challenged and rendered incomplete in way of a physical shortcoming? How tough must life be for those who are oozing with high hopes and potential but find it way too tough to play a sport?
But recently a heartwarming story emerged from the southern Indian city of Chennai where it appeared that despite being restricted to their wheelchairs, a group of enthusiastic women were darting around a basketball court and finding their way to basket some really great strikes. A story that has resonated with international media like BBC, it seems the Indian Woman’s basketball team is all set to participate in the upcoming para-tournament. Truth be told it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea to take to a sport like basketball that challenges an individual not only from the perspective of physicality and stamina but also from a cognitive perspective: taking aims whilst being in hurried commotion.
In a few months from now, the Indian women’s basketball team shall be participating in a first: the coveted Paralympic games slated to be held in 2020. The preparations are in full swing with our wheelchair-bound athletes practicing round the clock with full vigor and enthusiasm. It ought to be said, spending just a few hours amidst them can help us understand the sheer clarity of focus and the spirit of camaraderie that is easily evident being part of a close-knit group.
One of the youngest players in India’s basketball team is 16-year-old Rekha, a lively but focused athlete. She’s been the youngest to participate in the trials for the national team. Not only considered a rising star, Rekha, a cynosure of everyone’s eyes is being touted as the fastest player among the entire team. Interestingly, the one force of motivation who’s been rallying behind the enthusiastic bunch of basketball talents is its coach- Mr. Anthony Pereira- a former engineer in Indian military and a renowned para-athlete since 1971. Many in the contingent share with unbridled enthusiasm that it is this sport that saved their life, else it had been lacking in purpose. But with the Wheelchair Basketball Federation of India having come into existence since 2014- the central force directing the efforts of a talented lot to its true manifestation- it appears that our para-athletes aren’t alone. That there’s a force watching their back. Let’s hope for a fantastic outcome in the Paralympic Games, 2020.