IM this article to a friend!

February 6, 2003

Four quarters of courage, determination

From: Pune Newsline, India - 06 Feb 2003

Rahul Fernandes
Pune, February 6: Cricket is certainly not on the agenda of the 50-odd participants of the first National Basketball Championship for Deaf. A rare demonstration of raw courage and dogged determination marks this unique three-day event that got underway at the Deccan Gymkhana courts on Thursday.

There were no Kobe Bryants, no Shaquille O’Neals. Physically-challenged but highly-motivated youngsters from seven states — Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and hosts Maharahstra — were out to prove that their disability is no handicap.

For these hearing-impaired, the only challenge in sight is to make the most of the opportunity to exhibit their unremitting ability on the basketball court. A good showing in this event could earn them the prized India colours. Says PVS Maniyar, public relations co-ordinator All-India Sports Council of the Deaf (AISCD) New Delhi: ‘‘This meet assumes particular importance since it will be the basis for selection of the Indian team that will vie for honours at the 7th Asia-Pacific Games for Deaf in Kuwait in March 2004.

Maharashtra coach Atul Deodhar is confident of his team’s prospects at the meet. ‘‘I’m sure we’ll win,’’ he says. Deodhar names Milind Sathe and Prakash Sawala as the star players of his team. ‘‘They are most likely to make it to the Indian team,’’ he says.

Four quarters of courage, determination

Ghanekar, has his eyes set on playing for India as well. The 29-year-old deaf and mute cartoon animator explains, ‘‘I love to play basketball. I’ve represented Maharashtra at three nationals for the deaf and now I want to represent India.’’

Similar is the passion of 17-year-old Karnataka hoopster Jeremiah Ricky. The budding architect from Mangalore explains, ‘‘Yes, it is difficult to play when you are handicapped. We can’t hear the referee’s whistle, but basketball is our passion and no disability can stop us.’’

Six linesmen are positioned to wave red flags to catch the attention of the players when the referee blows the whistle.

The meet holds inspiration for other players as well. Says 13-year-old Mallika Chauhan, a regular trainee at the Deccan Gymkhana courts, ‘‘the experience of seeing ‘disabled’ hoopsters play the game, probably better than us, is awe-inspiring. I’ve come here to learn something from them.’’

© 2002: Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd. All rights reserved throughout the world.