Hardly any place to practice, not much funds, but they battled all odds.

Against all odds Womens Wheelchair Basketball team wins bronze for India at world meet
news Sports Sunday, August 06, 2017 - 19:26
Written by  Pheba Mathew

They were able to practice for just 15 days together as a team, but the Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team that represented India for the first time at 4th Bali Cup International Tournament has won a Bronze medal.

The 4th Bali Cup International Tournament was held at Bali, Indonesia from July 28 to July 30, 2017. The team consisted of 12 people from different states in India. “It was a great experience and we are happy that we were able to win a bronze medal even though it is the first time a Paralympics women’s team was representing India,” says Vinolia Violet, women’s team captain.

“We have been practicing for the last three-and-a-half-years for the game individually. There were four matches, we won two matches and we lost two matches. We won two matches with Indonesia and lost matches with Afghanistan and Thailand,” added Vinolia.

Though the players had been training individually, they just had 15 days at the Sathyabhama University in Chennai to work as a team.

Asked about the challenges they face, “Communication was a problem as we all speak in different languages. Secondly, it is very important to practice together as a team. We should at least practice once in three months. This time, we practiced from July 21 to July 27, before that we had practiced for eight days during selection camp," Vinolia says. 

She added that it has been difficult to find places to practice. “We are trying to find indoor places to practice, if we do it outdoor we will have to keep changing the wheelchair tires. Many of the players do not have proper courts to practice and some of them do not even have proper wheelchairs so some of them just do ball practice. So imagine if we are given better facilities what we will be able achieve,” says Vinolia Violet, team captain.

The Australian Consulate in Chennai had sponsored the Women’s team. “Participating in the Bali Cup was good exposure for our players. There was a great improvement in their performance as matches progressed. Our players observed and learnt good techniques from other teams which they were even able to adopt and apply quickly,” says Madhavi Latha, President of Wheelchair Basketball Federation of India.

The other teams are using high performance wheel-chairs, adds Madhavi Latha. “The players are from different parts of India and they could only practice totally for 15 days, that is not sufficient. For us, organizing the camps, itself is a big thing. Every time, we travel abroad it is a tough task to get tickets for so many wheelchairs. Airlines cannot accommodate all of us in the same flight, we traveled in four different flights, which are two from Mumbai and two from Chennai,” says Madhavi.