India: “For the first time in my life, I forgot I had a disability”

At Handwara Degree College, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, tensions are running high on the cricket pitch. The Baramulla Tigers are playing against the Kupwara Tigers in the region’s first ever-inclusive cricket match featuring both players with and without disabilities. 

Handicap International organized the match, in collaboration with Hope Disability Centre and Help Foundation[1]. More than 3,000 fans including students, teachers, members of the government and NGOs, and people with disabilities and their families, watched the historic event.

“This is a wonderful event and an opportunity to help include young people with disabilities in society,” says Abdul Majeed, the principal of the Handwara Degree College.  We hope to organize more inclusive sports events in the future.

“Sports provide an opportunity for people to get together and to overcome social, cultural, and language barriers,” says Muddasir Ashraf, Disability Manager for Handicap International in India. “Normally, people here think of those with disabilities as ‘useless’. Sometimes they’re hidden away. We want them to be included in their community.”

In the end, the Kupwara Tigers won the match, to the delight of their supporters. “I played, and for the first time in my life, I forgot I had a disability,” says Iqbal, a cricketer with the Tigers. 

[1] With support from ECHO.