Asia Oceanic Zonal Championship for Wheelchair Basketball will take place in Thailand in January 2017. This is a qualifying tournament for the World Under-23 Basketball Championship for persons with disability.
In a first, the Wheelchair Basketball Federation of India, which is a member of International Wheelchair Basketball Federation, has made concrete plans to send an Indian Under-23 Wheelchair Basketball Team to the Asia Oceanic Zonal Championship in an effort to make it to world level.
Click on the video to see Milkha Singh supporting the “Wheelchair basketball U23 team” & asking India for their support!
19 Indian athletes took part & won 2 golds, 1 silver and 1 bronze at the recent Paralympic Games in Rio De Janiero, Brazil, doing India proud. Wonderful as the showing was, did you know that there has been no Indian presence in any team sport in the Paralympics till now?
Thanks to intensive efforts of the WBFI in organizing training camps and tournaments, in just over two years, India has an India under-23 men’s basketball team, which is raring to represent India, gain exposure and bring laurels.
If the Indian team finishes in the Top 3 at the Asia Oceania Championship, it will make it to World Championship in Canada in June 2017. Let us join together and create the opportunity.
The wheelchair basketball team in action at an international tournament
India’s greatest athlete Milkha Singh, The flying Sikh, who did India proud in the 1960 Rome Olympics, is a big believer and supporter of this initiative and team. He understands the challenges these sportsmen in wheelchairs face and exhorts every Indian to support this initiative.
C’MON INDIA – Let us support the first ever Paralympic-Wheelchair Basketball team from our country!
Fund this campaign to get them to the Asia Oceania Zone Qualifying Tournament in January 2017.
Why our financial support is critical
The Indian Wheelchair Basketball U23 team is preparing to take part in the Asia Oceania Zone Qualifying Tournament in Thailand from 21st to 28th January 2017. As almost the entire set of players shortlisted hail from economically challenged background, to make a mark on the international stage, the team needs your support. The outlay is INR 11,90,000 to pay for training, participation, travel and accommodation.
As there are no funding options in the mainstream sports arena for this initiative, the Wheelchair Basketball Federation of India (WBFI), a registered national body, has had to reach out to all of us to help make its plans possible. Once the team gets overseas and makes the cut to the World level, funding options will improve, but not just yet. Now they need each of us to chip in.
A player of the wheelchair basketball team in action
Wheelchair Basketball Team Management
Ms. Madhavi Latha - President of WBFI
The driving force behind this initiative is Madhavi Latha, President of the Wheelchair Basketball Federation of India. She is a National Paralympic swimming champion and wheelchair basketball player. Polio and a near tryst with death have not deterred her passion for sports.
Hers is a story of courage, grit & determination.
A decade ago, her health condition deteriorated due to post polio syndrome. Doctors gave her a year to live. Her spinal cord was compressed dangerously, impairing her lungs and making it difficult for her body to receive the oxygen it needed. This caused her muscles to weaken as well.
Even with immediate spinal surgery, her prospects did not look promising. Things turned when a physiotherapist suggested hydrotherapy - exercising in water. The buoyancy of water made it easier for her body to hold itself up and strengthened her muscles. She could walk underwater. “This meant a completely different world of freedom for me.” Says Madhavi.
This propelled her to start the ‘Yes, We Can Too!’ initiative to encourage persons with disabilities pursue and excel at sports! Additionally sports has the ability to make them happier, which leads to them living more fulfilling lives. It takes away from the perceived stigma that comes attached with disability.
Persons with disability who are into sports lead a more healthy, productive and active lives. We not just supporting the team, but encouraging others to take up sport and promoting health.
Toufic Allouche (Lebanon) - IWBF Instructor
Toufic Allouche is an International Wheelchair Basketball Federation instructor. He started his career in wheelchair basketball as a manager and then a player in Montpellier, France. He started coaching the 1st division basketball teams in Lebanon in 1988, and wheelchair basketball team from 1989.
He is a very experienced coach having played basketball for five years in Europe. He has been a support in the development of wheelchair basketball in India. His secret for success is:
`Lots of fun off court, lots of work on court. Everybody has a role to play & if one is not ready for that, better not join. Anybody who tries to play all roles, better stay home.’
M. Antony Das Pereira - Indian Team Head Coach
M. Antony Das Pereira is a veteran of the Indo- Pak War 1971. A Spinal Cord Injury while serving the nation meant a life on a wheelchair for 45 years now. He lives it to the full and in into athletics, wheelchair basketball and swimming. He has won many medals at the national and international level. He initiated sports activities in Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre in Pune, and encourages his mates from the Army, Navy and Air Force to participate in sports and trains them.
Image: Milkha Singh with the WBFI officials
This crowdfunding campaign for the India Under-23 Wheelchair Basketball Team aims to raise INR 11,90,000. Detailed break up:
Image: The wheelchair basketball team after an international match.
FINAL LIST OF 22 PROBABLES :
India Under-23 Wheelchair Basketball Team will comprise 12 players. Based on performance in two tournaments in India over the past nine months, 22 players are in the reckoning. The final team will be selected after further training and matches.
MORE INFO ABOUT THE DISABLED & ABOUT PARA SPORTS:
As per WHO report 9% to 10% of Indian population is disabled. Among them persons with physical disabilities are more in number because of accidents.
Players of Wheelchair Basketball need not be wheelchair users. Players with lower limbs (legs) related any type of disability are eligible. They may be able to walk with crutches or without even crutches with only a limp, they may be able to walk. In addition to lower limbs, they can have disability related to upper limbs (hands) too as long as they are able to propel the wheelchair on their own.
Till now India participated in Paralympics ONLY in Individual sports like swimming, athletics, archery etc. Never has India participated in team games like Wheelchair Basketball in Paralympics. The main reason is individuals can succeed despite barriers (no support from family/Society, lack of sponsorship, etc.) but for team games the whole ecosystem (facilities, technical support, infrastructure, sponsorship, etc) have to be in place and also the budget for an entire group (not 1 or 2 players) will be on higher side. In this background, Wheelchair Basketball Federation of India (WBFI) a registered National body working to support WCBB sport in India is struggling to mobilise funds to send a first ever team from India to participate in U23 qualifying match for world championship, which is to be held in Bangkok in January 2017.