Thu, May 22, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Disabled cricketers make their dreams reality in Pakistan

AFP , KARACHI

A disabled Pakistani cricketer delivers a ball during net practice in Karachi on March 30.

PHOTO: AFP

Polio withered Salim Karim's right leg when he was a child and a motorbike accident in his teens seriously damaged his left, but though he can barely walk, he is the driving force behind disabled cricket in Pakistan.

Karim, 42, set up a team for physically impaired people with two friends in 2006 and they now run the pioneering Disabled Cricket Association of Pakistan.

“I started this team with a vision to make all physically impaired people realize that they can live a life without any worries and I am happy that the cause has been served,” Karim said.

The determination to overcome their physical impediments is a common theme amongst the teammates and they play an important role in a country where health facilities and opportunities for disabled people are rudimentary at best.

Farhan Saeed, an amputee, bowls with the aid of a stick and says he has modeled his style on the action of Pakistani paceman Mohammad Asif.

“I lost my leg in an accident when I was four and life was miserable until I found my way in cricket,” he said. “It was only as a player that I had an opportunity to meet Asif last year.”

Mohammad Umar has only three fingers between his two hands, yet sends down balls with incredible accuracy.

Kashif Hussain lost his right leg, yet supplements his team’s batting, standing with the help of a stick.

Abdul Jabbar has an artificial leg and just one hand. He not only bats but bowls left-arm spin.

“I have lived my life without any worries because the thought of being disabled never crosses my mind,” Jabbar said.

Karim’s partners in this venture are Ameeruddin Ansari, a former first-class cricketer who is now a coach, and Mohammad Nizam, a die-hard cricket organizer. The trio now run the Disabled Cricket Association of Pakistan on their own.

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