Indian athletes who participated at the 2016 Paralympics last month won four medals, creating history since India began participating in it some 50 years back. But India’s under-23 wheel chair basketball team lacks funds for competing in the World Championship scheduled to be held in Bangkok next year.
The team comprises of players from all over India. They need about Rs.15 lakhs for their travel, equipment and upkeep. Experts say that participating in the World Championship will not only earn them an international exposure, but also equip each participant to train candidates back in their hometowns. Though uncertain, the undeterred team is now attending a coaching camp in Chennai.
Their team’s Lebanese coach, Toufic Allouche, is a member of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation. He voluntarily coaches the team for free. Sathyabama University, Chennai has gracefully offered a site for conducting the coaching camp by opening its state of art facility. However, the team needs more institutional and corporate partnerships.
Mr. Allouche said that wheel chair basketball can become India’s pride if public takes interest. The Wheel Chair Basketball Federation, backed by Milkha Singh therefore has begun an online petition seeking donations for the team.