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Mumbai: In search of a place to play

Updated on: 07 June,2024 07:20 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Hemal Ashar |

Wheelchair cricket delegation meets Maharashtra Governor, citing no grounds available for practice; appeals for support

Mumbai: In search of a place to play

Gurav swings the bat as he looks to belt the ball out of the ground

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Mumbai: In search of a place to play

Hoping that all’s wheel that will end well, a delegation of wheelchair cricketers met Maharashtra Governor Ramesh Bais at Raj Bhavan (Walkeshwar) in SoBo earlier this week. The delegation led by Mumbai’s activist for the differently abled Nilotpal Mrinal, asked that permission be granted to practice on University / College grounds. The delegation spokespersons stated that universities do not allow wheelchair cricketers to practice on their grounds.

The group urged the governor to direct all state universities to allow the differently abled (Divyaang) sportspersons to use university / college grounds for practice. The wheelchair players added that most of them come from poor to middle-class families and cannot afford to practice in private clubs and Gymkhanas. They sought the intervention of the Governor to allow them access to university and college playgrounds.

Help please

Pratishtha Mrinal Nilotpal’s daughter, a school student and member of the Nanhi Goonj Foundation, which is an organisation that enables support for underprivileged children and the differently abled through several initiatives and programs, made a verbal representation to the governor during the Raj Bhavan meet. She, who was with the delegation said, “I am here today to request something for our Divyaang community, which is the physically disabled category of brothers and sisters.”

The student added, “It is our duty and responsibility to take care of the 2 per cent of people that fall into the category. Sir, sport is important for everyone. We have the Mumbai wheelchair cricket team with us, which is facing difficulties in practicing in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra too. As chancellor of Maharashtra universities, we humbly request that you to order all university and government college officials to make it convenient for our Divyaang category sportspersons to practice their sport and support them. Many colleges and Universities allow paid private physical training facilities but they don’t support our Divyaang persons to play in the space.” Mrinal signed off stating to the Governor in her appeal, “You support and care for our Divyaang persons. We are here to request your help.”

Said Pratishtha’s father, Nilotpal, “My daughter is extremely aware of the hardships and has been fighting the good fight for differently abled since a young age. I am physically challenged and afflicted with polio, so the cause is extremely important and close to her heart.”


Several different abled players have said they are denied the grounds as administrators think the wheelchairs are damaging the ground surface. Vishwanath Gurav, Wheelchair Sports Association Mumbai president, who is also a wheelchair cricketer said, “We practice wheelchair cricket in Santacruz and Khar. Yet, by and large, we find it very difficult to get suitable grounds to play. Touting inclusion and accessibility is simply lip service to wheelchair sportspersons, and by that, I do not just mean cricketers who find it so difficult to get a space to practice. We must remember that the ground also has to be accessible, so it cannot be at a height or have stairs. It is so vital that the city and state supports us in every way. We are equally proud as the abled to represent Mumbai, Maharashtra and India.”

The differently-abled players asked, “How can we play to the best of our ability if we do not have the ground itself to practice our game on? How can we play to potential if it is so challenging to simply find a place to practice or be weighed down by all that mental stress that we will soon be shunted out of a particular practice space too?” Gurav all-rounder, who is a Santacruz resident, is the manager of the India wheelchair cricket team set to play five T20 fixtures against the Sri Lanka wheelchair cricket team beginning June 9 in New Delhi.

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