"I was always passionate about cricket. Even in my younger days, I would always enjoy playing the sport," says Mohammed Farooq.
A Karimnagar resident, 37-year-old Farooq is wheelchair-bound as he was afflicted by polio when he was five. However, that did not stop him and his passion for sports.
A cricketer who has participated in several international tournaments, Farooq has been running from pillar to post to get help from the Telangana government, but in vain.
"In 2002, I participated in a paralympic contest in Bangalore for badminton, table tennis and the wheelchair race. Even back then, I didn't get any support or even a coach for practice. I went around to several clubs and asked them, but they would ask more money than I could afford," he narrates.
"Despite this, I have worked my way up to being a senior player in Telangana. I had to give up the other sports due to the lack of a support system, but cricket has always been close to my heart," he says.
Farooq has travelled to several countries to represent India, but has done so at his personal expense.
"I played in an India-Pakistan match in Malaysia, and another match in Kathmandu. I have played against Nepal in India, and we have also played in Bangladesh," Farooq says.
However, all this comes at a price.
"I have worked very hard and all my friends and family have been supportive. I have taken many loans and borrowed money from all of them, and I'm deeply in debt," he added.
While Farooq initially believed that he could make a living with his passion for sports, he was soon disillusioned. "For more than a decade now, I have been driving an auto rickshaw to make ends meet. I have two daughters and one son, and I still need to put food on the table. Additionally, I also need to pay rent. It gets very difficult," he says.
Farooq adds that he has met several authorities including the concerned Collector and submitted several letters and applications, but none of them bore fruit.
"I am desperately in need of government support. They did not even let me meet Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao at the Secretariat when I tried. They sent me back at the entrance itself," he says.
Desperately in need of government support, he tried to meet Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao at the Secretariat, but was sent back at the entrance. "Even after winning several medals, awards, and prizes for my country, I'm still struggling to even get a government job in sports quota," Farooq rues.
Stating that sportspersons in every area from Delhi to Jaipur and Haryana to Karnataka get some form of support from their state governments, Farooq says that he has been struggling to get the help he needs from the Telangana government.
"Even the Andhra Pradesh government didn't help me before bifurcation, and the Telangana government isn't helping me now. I don't know what to do," he adds.
Farooq needs to go to Kathmandu on October 13 for an international tournament and is still looking for funds. If you wish to help, his bank account details are given below.
INDIAN BANK, KARIMNAGAR branch
Name: MD. FAROOQ AHMED
Account Number: 493214862
IFSC Code: IDIB000K021