Provide opportunity and we will prove mettle, say disabled players

Bangalore, Nov 30 ( As Nirmal Singh, a wheelchair rugby player quietly starts his practice session at the ongoing International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS) World Games here, he has a message in store.

“Give the physically-challenged equal rights and opportunities and we’ll prove our mettle,” the 24-year-old from Jaipur told Inditop.

Nirmal and his 11 team mates are happy and proud as this is for the first time Indian wheelchair rugby players got a chance to play international sporting event.

“Indian wheelchair rugby players were not here to win or lose. These are all exhibition matches to create awareness on the issue of persons with disability, an invisible minority in the society,” said Anshul Sharma, an official of Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) who is looking after the wheelchair rugby event.

Nirmal became wheelchair bound following a road accident in Haryana a few months back.

“I suffered injuries in my spinal cord. My lower body has lost its senses. I can move my hands and arms at a slow rate. I am still undergoing treatment at Indian Spinal Injuries Centre in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi,” he said.

Team coach Rajiv Virat said that all the team members are quadriplegic and have severe disability.

“In spite, of their disability they are taking part in an international meet. We should all salute their grit and determination to survive like any other normal human beings,” said the coach.

“The game of rugby is quite tough. One needs lot of physical and mental grit to play the sports,” added the coach.

“Emotional trauma of people like Nirmal is severe. Their lives have been completely changed after they met with near-fatal accidents. They are now dependent for small things of life, like relieving themselves. However, most the team members who have been wheelchair bound after one or other accidents are not cross with their lives. Rather they have taken it upon themselves to march ahead in life,” Pragya Ghildial, 26-year-old counsellor at Indian Spinal Injuries Centre in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi said.

Pragya is also a table tennis player and is part of Indian table tennis team for the Games.

The international event has been organised by IWAS in association Paralympic Committee of India (PCI). The international sporting event is hosting 604 athletes from 43 countries who are participating in 11 disciplines, athletics, archery, sitting volleyball, table tennis, wheelchair rugby, badminton, golf, power lifting, wheelchair fencing, shooting and swimming.