Rasika back on track after freak mishap | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Rasika back on track after freak mishap

For Rasika Sampath, an average day would usually comprise of football, football and more football. He used to represent a local club in Galle until 2006, when fate took control and changed his life. He lost both legs while playing football on a railway track, reports Venkat Ananth.

cricket Updated: Jun 05, 2009 00:25 IST
Venkat Ananth

Perhaps, this is where dreams are made. Every time a player walks into Lord's, there is something special and emotional about it. This story is not about a cricketer, but a 24-year-old man from Sri Lanka on his first tour to England for something that would make him walk again.

For Rasika Sampath, an average day would usually comprise of football, football and more football. He used to represent a local club in Galle until 2006, when fate took control and changed his life. He lost both legs while playing football on a railway track. Before the mishap, Rasika was a day-labourer working as a welder.

It took Sarah Griffith, founder of the NGO "Bridge 2 Sri Lanka" to notice Rasika's plight and help him rebuild his life. Griffith does her charity work in Hikkaduwa in Sri Lanka and helps in the rehabilitation of tsunami-affected victims.

The NGO has built 26 houses and a school so far. "I first heard about Rasika in Hikkaduwa in 2007. Our first objective was to find him a house…and then a wheelchair," says Griffith.

"We have been actively raising money for his new limbs. His attitude towards life after the accident has been brilliant," she says.

He's taken things in his stride and can't wait to get on with life again, Griffith adds. The NGO brought Rasika to the UK for two months to get his new prosthetic limbs fitted in Dorset. Incidentally, Rasika's local town hero, Lasith Malinga, inaugurated his new house.

An opportunity to meet the Sri Lankan cricket team in London was a dream come true for Rasika. However, it took an unlikely source to help Rasika realise his dreams. I contacted Mark Latter, Head of Cricket at Guernsey (an island in the Channel Islands and an ICC affiliate member) to put forward a request to the ICC to help us get tickets for this match. They also have been kind enough to arrange an appointment with the cricket team, especially Malinga, who Rasika knows, says Griffith.

Even as you talk to Rasika, the first thing you notice about him is his big smile.

The strength, that has seen him overcome the mishap, is visible as you hear him speak. At once you know that the confidence and mental strength are intact. And they cannot be shaken, come what may.