“Witness the Rise of Para Sports” “We Believe – We Make – We Achieve”
These lines welcome you when you visit the web page of the Divyaang Myithri Academy – based out of Bengaluru, Karnataka. Founded in 2016, the sports academy is an inspiring example that aims to take Para-Sports to another level.
Sports has been an integral part of life for many people usually as an activity that kept them occupied in their free time, a break in daily hectic schedules that one spends with friends. Some even grew to love it so much that they were able to make it their career as well. However, this remains a dream for many as the lack of accessibility in several sports in India is a major issue that is yet to be rectified. Over the years, several efforts have been made to make this more inclusive for the specially-abled community to take part in, which has got renewed with India’s exceptional results at the Tokyo Paralympics 2021.
Following this, we take a look at the academy which has been striving for the same across popular sports like Cricket, Basketball, Handball, Kabaddi, etc, accessible and nurturing athletes to represent India at the Paralympics and other Para Sports.
The Academy describes itself as “a non-profitable organization which is focusing on encouraging People with Disabilities to participate in all possible athletics available for PWD’s.” For a long time now, their focus has been on raising awareness about ‘Wheelchair Sports’.
Speaking to the Logical Indian, founder Shiva Prasad, who is also the vice-captain of India’s Wheelchair Cricket Team, explaining on the special kind of wheelchair is used to make it easier for people says- “Our priority or primary focus is to promote wheelchair sports in India, ideally a team sport. We have a multi-sports wheelchair. It has tilted wheels that enable us to perform better in the game and provide speed. It has protective rims around it as well that makes sure no player gets injured.”
Cricket is the ever favourite among, and being no different her, the organization held its first-ever wheelchair cricket test match that was officiated by an ICC umpire with over 30 players from Karnataka in 2020. Apart from this, the academy also specialises in Wheelchair Basketball, Handball, Lawn Tennis, Table Tennis and also Wheelchair Kabaddi.
Though the organization is still doing its best for inclusion, the lack of basic structures, funds, and accessibility is a huge hindrance, points out Prasad. The need of the hour is to execute the plans that are yet just on paper. He further adds, “The last two years have been very bad because of COVID-19 and we’ve been struggling to raise funds which have stopped our operations. Huge funding is required here. If we have to train 10 athletes, you need to have coaches for different sports who can come and train in the respective fields.”