National-level rifle shooter Mohammad Faisal Khan and national hockey player Abdul Samad might have spent all their lives carving out an identity for themselves among the country’s sports fraternity but their wait to obtain recognition from the Madhya Pradesh government does not seem to end.
Born without legs, Khan, who has used a wheelchair all his life, stayed true to his passion for shooting right from his childhood. As a kid, he started practising at the rifle club, Bhopal, and was later admitted to the Madhya Pradesh State Shooting Academy (MPSSA).
Today, Khan is the recipient of three Gold, three Silver and four Bronze medals won at various all-India shooting tournaments.
“When I started shooting from the wheelchair, people looked at me with surprise. Some people in my family too tried to convince my father to not involve me in sports because they believed I wouldn’t succeed due to my disability. But in the past decade, I have formed an identity beyond this disability for myself, with the support of my father,” he says.
Khan’s father says, “My son has excelled in sports but I’m still worried about his future. Sports has given him recognition but has not made him economically stable. We have requested the state government to provide us with assistance numerous times, but to no avail.”
Like Khan, Abdul Samad — the first hearing- and speech -impaired goalkeeper in the world to play in the normal category — is also waiting for help from the state government. The 25-year-old player has received more than two dozen trophies, certificates and awards, including the Godfrey Phillips National Bravery Awards in 2012, but has no means to support himself economically.
His brother, Abdul Subir says, “Samad wants to live an independent life for which he applied for many jobs in the sports quota but was rejected every time due to his disability. Despite having approached the state government and sports department several times, my brother is still waiting for a response.”