Disabled athletes in Bangladesh are showing the world their heart, determination and grit as the sport of wheelchair cricket takes off
Bangladesh is one of many countries that consider people with disabilities to be an invisible group. It’s very rare to find establishments, government or public, that offer accessible facilities for the disabled community. This indifference towards the disabled population has been developed over the years due to lack of inclusiveness of disabled people in mainstream activities.
The time has come for people living with disabilities, especially wheelchair users, to take steps to come out and make their presence known. But there are two barriers that need to be addressed. Firstly, encouraging the wheelchair users to shun all the social stigmas and injustice and secondly, raising awareness that people with disabilities can be a productive part of society.
And cricket can be a great tool to bring these two groups together.
The captain of Bangladesh wheelchair cricket team, Mohammad Mohasin, pioneered wheelchair cricket in his home country. Mohasin has recently formed the Wheelchair Cricket Welfare Association of Bangladesh (WCWAB) for wheelchair cricket players.
“This sport is helping individuals discover their full potential as they come out from the bounds of mainstream society both on and off the field of competition,” says Mohasin. “Ultimately, they become a role model for others living with disabilities and the people of Bangledash. No one should think of themselves as a burden to society or family.”
The organization is the only sports based association of Bangladesh and has been working with the disabled community since 2010, aiming to incorporate people with disabilities as well as bringing awareness to mainstream society.
The WCWAB is registered under the Ministry of Social Welfare in Bangladesh and have elected seven board of director members among them, four are wheelchair users. The association has more than 100 registered players across Bangladesh.
In 2016, WCWAB organized the first ever National Wheelchair Cricket Tournament, the Purnava First National Wheelchair Cricket Tournament in association with Imago Sports Management where more than 40 wheelchair users from all over the country participated.
It was considered by many to be a historic event for hosting the greatest number of wheelchair users ever gathered Bangladesh.
In 2017, the organization continued to search for talented athletes in Chittagong, Rangpur and Rajbari, and WCWAB organized the 2017 Walton Bangladesh – India Wheelchair Cricket Tournament in Bangladesh where the Bangladesh Wheelchair Cricket team won the series.
“Playing cricket has been a life-changing experience for most of these young men,” says Mohasin. “This helped the players to develop self-belief and confidence to compete in the main stream sectors while overcoming their disability.”
Moving forward, the WCWAB continues their search for talented wheelchair athletes and is need of the support of the community and the world as the sport continues to grow. Most recently, they got an offer to participate in a tri-nation series in Nepal and more international events are in the queue.
WCWAB would like to request everyone to support wheelchair cricket and help it grow. For more information, please visit http://www.wheelchaircricketbd.org/