‘Square the pitch’ for our players

Wheelchair cricket team managed to reach New Delhi for semi-finals with great difficulty and needs all the help it can get

Published: 09th February 2018 10:32 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th February 2018 04:48 AM   |  A+A-

Team at the South League Tournament, held a week back in Jayanagar

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: Even as the wheelchair cricket team of Karnataka has secured a spot in the semi-finals to be held in New Delhi today and tomorrow, the 15-member team formed less than 3 months ago struggles to find funds to support its campaign. They nearly did not make it for the semis due to lack of funds.
The National Wheelchair Cricket Tournament is being held in four zones of the country; north, south, east and west. In the South League tournament, held on February 2 and 3 in Jayanagar, Karnataka triumphed over Tamil Nadu. Now the next match is against Chhattisgarh for a spot in the finals.

A total of 12 states participated in the event. The tournament is organised by Divyaang Myithri Sports Academy (DMSA), based in Bengaluru,  in association with wheelchair cricket associations of Uttar Pradesh. A separate association for the league was also launched, where a representative of each 12 states constitutes a board.

Team formation

It had been nearly a year since Shiva Prasad, who ranks fifth in the national ranking on wheelchair tennis, decided to form a wheelchair cricket team. Ever since the inception of his NGO called Divyaang Myithri Sports Academy in May 2016, he has been working towards this goal. Local newspapers carried advertisements for trials. The NGO also participated in the Ramnagara wheelchair cricket tournament on Disability Day in December 2017, which helped them find some “raw talent”.

The 15 team members hail from different regions of the state including Mysuru and Mandya and the average age of the team is 28 years. The state team meets every weekends and commits around 3-hours to  practice.

The struggle

The team members are not professionals and have regular jobs. They have already set out by train to Delhi. “We do not mind the train journey but the players will be tired on the day we have to play the match,” says Shiva Prasad. The organisation has a fundraiser online and so far have gathered Rs 49,000 though the target is set at Rs 2 lakh.

“The funds are nearly exhausted since we cannot ask the individual team players to contribute. Most of them are from an economically weaker families,” says Shiva. So far, the team had been thriving on individual sponsors. Even on the match held on February 2 and 3, only eight cricket players were using wheelchairs designed for sports while the rest used the regular ones. If you want to contribute go to link: https://milaap.org/fundraisers/WheelchairCricket

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