Players refuse to let their disabilities come in the way as they excel on the field
The two-day TANA Differently-Abled Wheelchair Cricket Cup, organised under the auspices of the Telugu Association of North America (TANA), concluded at the ZP High School Ground at Gopalapatnam on Thursday.
Refusing to let their disabilities come in the way of their love for the game, the cricketers batted, bowled and fielded with alacrity, all from their wheelchairs. A modest crowd that had arrived to watch the game slowly grew in size, and the spectators watched in awe as the fielders raced in their wheelchairs to stop the ball, almost tilting over in their efforts to retrieve the ball.
The ground is located right behind the ZP High School but with a high wall and a grill gate separating them. The ground has a separate entry gate. As the differently-abled players exhibited their skills with bat and ball, curious schoolchildren stood at the gate and watched the game unfold during the lunch break.
“I have a strong passion for cricket, and was a First Class player. My spinal cord was severely injured in a car accident in Delhi in 2012, and I have been confined to a wheelchair ever since,” said S. Raman Subba Rao, founder general secretary of the AP Wheelchair and Disabled Cricket Association, who has been been organising wheelchair cricket matches every year since 2016.
“Sports and games help in overcoming mental stress, and improve physical fitness. The winners of this event will be eligible to participate in the nationals to be held in Delhi later. We are also planning to organise a Wheelchair World Cup cricket tournament in a few years,” Mr. Subba Rao said.
“I came to India on an errand a few weeks ago. In the United States, I had launched basketball and football for NRIs on behalf of TANA after being elected as its sports coordinator,” said Shashank Yarlagadda. “On coming to India, I made an online search to organise some sports activity and chanced upon Raman Subba Rao, who has been conducting wheelchair cricket matches. I learnt that all over India, there were about a dozen such associations and I wanted to start with the Telugu States first,” he said.
“TANA president Lavu Anjaiah Choudhary, secretary Satish Vemuri and TANA foundation chairman Venkata Ramana Yarlagadda and secretary Sashikanth Vallepalli readily agreed to my proposal,” says Mr. Shashank, who plans to organise another match sometime in November or December this year on a bigger scale.
Tourism Minister Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao, Deputy Mayor Jiyyani Sridhar, Visakhapatnam West MLA P.G.V.R. Naidu, T. Shiva Shankara Rao, chief patron, were among those who participated in the inaugural function on Wednesday.
Thursday’s match was played between Andhra and Telangana. Andhra batted first and scored 231/4 in 15 overs, while Telangana managed to score 99/6 in 15 overs.
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