Gurukul Tennis Academy: Differently-abled but not defeated
As many as 22 differently-abled children and youth are taking part in a three-day wheelchair tennis workshop organised by the institution.
BHUBANESWAR: At the Gurukul Tennis Academy in Mendhashal, under Khurda district, the court has turned into a turf for empowering children with disabilities to fight back the challenges with their sporting abilities. And wheelchair tennis, their medium for inclusion.
As many as 22 differently-abled children and youth are taking part in a three-day wheelchair tennis workshop organised by the institution - headed by tennis player Chinmaya Pradhan.
For 12-year-old Romia of the nearby Kateni village, the workshop has come as an opportunity offering him a new life. Suffering from cerebral palsy, he was not able to speak or walk without support till three years back. He joined the academy in 2018 and learnt how to ride a wheelchair and play tennis.
“I have many friends in my school but none of them knows how to ride a wheelchair. I want to learn the tricks of tennis and play like a professional”, said the boy who studies in Kantabada High School.
Like Romia, Samina Begum - also 12-year-old and a student of Mendhasala Government High School - wants to play tennis and other sports too. She had broken her leg at the age of two and could never walk again despite surgery.
“I do not have many friends in school because they make fun of my disability. Through sports, I want to show them that I am in no way inferior to them”, said the girl, adding she has made many friends in the academy.
Rakesh Kumar Pradhan wants to win a national medal in wheelchair tennis. The 28-year-old youth was partially paralysed when he met with an accident in 2009.
He suffered spinal cord injuries and underwent a surgery but can never be able to walk again. Wheelchair became a constant companion, yet, he did not lose hope. He took to sports.
Last year, he participated in a virtual wheelchair marathon. “I decided to participate in this wheelchair tennis workshop to not only hone my skills in sports but also send a message that we are no less than the normal people”, he said.
Sports is also close to Sudarshan Nag’s heart. The 29-year-old has come all the way from Jeypore in Koraput district to participate in the camp. Suffering from polio since he was three, Nag is an artist and also a national-level differently-abled cricketer.
He has not only completed his graduation from Khallikote Arts College in Ganjam but also played for the State team thrice at the national level.
“Sports is truly a medium of inclusion and I am here to learn tennis”, he said. Chinmaya said tennis as a sport can help one groom as a person. “It is like a crash course to life. You win sometime, you lose sometime, you take immediate decisions in split seconds and give your best shot and if you lose, you learn to accept and you fight again. We want to use tennis as a tool in disability inclusion”, he added.