Sumit Kumar's fight against odds - The inspiring story of a differently-abled cricketer who dreamt big
In a country where cricket is more than just a game and people worship cricketers, many young players dream of playing for India. 26-year old Sumit Kumar is no different, as seen from his interview from IBN Live. But the only difference separating Sumit from the rest is his disability.
Sumit fell in love with the sport after watching India play in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, and watching little children play cricket on the streets. He grew determined to play the game and learnt it quickly despite being discouraged and ridiculed by people around him. He was even told that he was ‘wasting his time’ trying to play cricket.
Hailing from a remote village of Bagadpur in Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh, Sumit Kumar was diagnosed with polio as a one-year-old and ever since uses crutches and calipers to move around. Despite his condition, Sumit remains optimistic and still believes he can cope up with the demands of the game.
Speaking about his love for the sport, Kumar said, "I was interested in cricket as a child but could never play due to my disability. I finally learnt of disabled cricket at the age of 14 and resolved to form a team of disabled cricketers."
BCCI supports blind cricketers but not us: Kumar
He recalls the time when had to face many challenges when he first started playing. "Initially, it was quite a challenge for me but slowly and gradually, I practiced with crutches and now, I'm quite confident about it," said Kumar. He was constantly encouraged and supported by his friends and family who stood by him in thick and thin. He went on to form his own team and also successfully set up an association catering to the needs of the physically-challenged cricketers across his state.
In 2014, he along with another differently-abled cricketer, Vikkar Singh, was honoured by Uttar Pradesh’s Handicapped Welfare Department for their contribution towards the differently-abled cricket team. He however maintains that adequate support has to come from the state’s cricket board and the country’s rich cricket board, The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
"BCCI knows about the physically challenged cricketers. They support blind cricketers but no work and no step has been taken for us. We are facing several problems - there is no recognised cricket board for us, no fixed schedule for tournaments, no promotion and sponsors, no employment and no sports quota in government vacancies.”, he complains.