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What it was like to take part in a wheelchair users’ cricket tournament

July 30, 2013, 10:40 pm | This story has an Influence Score of 980

By riazhussain

Most of us appear to be dissatisfied with what we have in life. We think we are lagging behind others. Happiness and prosperity seem to be for others. Our daily discourses are marked by expressions of complaints and self-pity.  Such bleak thoughts, at times, brings some of us on the verge of suicidal attempts. But, the thing is that we are actually too engrossed with our own problems to look beyond them.  We become blind to the fact that there are many people in life who, despite being overwhelmed with greater trials and tribulations, continue to tread the rugged paths of life with smiles and cheerfulness. Certainly, we need to learn lessons of hope from them. This is what happened to one of my lovelorn friends.  A few days back when he was looking at Facebook posts of his friends, he came across a photo that sent waves of courage, hope and motivation across his upset mind. He shared the photo with me.   

It was a photo of a disabled person taking part in a cricket match on a wheel chair. I was also impressed. I managed to get contact details of the person who had uploaded the photo. I sent the individual an interview request. He gave me time and I interviewed him on the phone.

Cricket is a unique bat-and-ball game played mostly in the in the Commonwealth of Nations. In Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, people are fond of cricket. When there are cricket tournaments in the region, the cricket-mania is high among people. One sees children playing in the grounds and on the streets as well on Sundays.

Asif Iqbal is a person with disability. He lives in Pakistan. He loves to play cricket. As a cricket player, he is an all-rounder.

An all-rounder cricketer is good at both batting and bowling. Asif's favorite player is Ricky Ponting of Australia. Recently he participated as a player in National Bank Wheelchair Users Cricket Tournament (March 2-4, 2013) held in Multan, Pakistan. He represented the city of Multan. Their team manager was Mr. Fahad Bilal.

In the tournament, there were around 100 players on wheelchairs who came from different parts of Pakistan. There were six teams in total that came in coloured kits and competed for the trophy: Mirpur Zebras , Mardan Panthers, Deer Eagles, Karachi Dolphins, Multan Tigers and Lahore Lions. 

 

Common people, representatives of NGO, businessmen, political figures and bank officials attended the tournament. When a team would come onto the field, the spectators would clap enthusiastically to encourage the players. 

The batsmen tried to score as many runs as they could. They tried to send the ball to the boundary and to the spaces in the grassy field where there were no fielders. 

The bowlers tried to hit the stumps with their bowling manoeuvres. They used their fingers dexterously to spin and swing the ball. 

During the matches all the teams did their best. Under the heat of the game some players fell out of their wheelchairs to catch the ball. 

These matches were being monitored by independent sources who maintained the cricket scorebooks of all the matches. 

Asif's team (Multan Tigers) played two matches and qualified for the semi-final. Asif took three wickets in the three matches that he played with his team. However, despite their best efforts, his team could not qualify for the final, in which the Lahore Lions won the trophy. 

He says that this tournament was an attempt to help persons with disabilities become independent people. 'Persons with disabilities are burden for their parents. When they see us playing cricket on wheelchairs, they  get a message of motivation that they can also live like people without disabilities.'

 

He says that as players on wheelchairs, they have to face problems when they play matches in public grounds. Their major problem is accessibility. For instance, the washrooms are not accessible for them. Their wheelchairs don’t pass through the narrow doors of the washrooms. In addition, there is another problem with the condition of playing surface, which is the grassy field. He says their wheel chairs don’t run smoothly on grass. The government should provide them with better cricket grounds where they can enjoy the game. He appreciates the role media played in reporting the tournament.

But, Asif regrets that there was inadequate attention paid by the government. He hopes that the ladder would take into account their difficulties as persons with disabilities and would try to solve them. He concluded his interview beautifully by saying that this tournament has provided them an opportunity to forget their disabilities and explore their abilities. He clarified that 'disability does not lie in persons with disability. Disability, actually lies in the social system'. 

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