At Handwara degree college, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, tensions are running high. The Baramulla Tigers are playing against the Kupwara Tigers in an inclusive cricket match organised by Handicap International, in collaboration with Hope Disability Centre and Help Foundation (with support from ECHO). For the first time in this region, the teams have young cricketers with and without disabilities.
“This is the first time an inclusive cricket match has been organised in Jammu and Kashmir. Lots of people with disabilities are rejected here. People think they’re ‘useless’. Sometimes they’re hidden away,” explains Muddasir Ashraf, Disability Manager for Handicap International in India.
“We want them to be included in their community. Sport provides an opportunity for people to get together and to overcome social, cultural and language barriers,” he continues.
More than 3,000 people including the school management team, members of government and NGOs, people with disabilities and their families, took part in this historic event.
“This was a wonderful event and an opportunity to help include young people with disabilities in society. We hope to organise more inclusive sports events in the future,” explained Abdul Majeed, the principal of the Handwara Degree college.
The Kupwara team finally 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 a proud Iqbal, man of the match.