LET ME WIN. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt. These were the feelings witnessed in three-day national-level football tournament for mentally challenged that concluded today at Tatya Tope Stadium. MP won the group C category. State Sports and Youth Welfare Department in association with Special Olympics MP organised the tournament.
For others the national football tournament was a sports activity that started on August 21 but the mentally challenged participants, the ‘special’ people, enjoyed it as a gathering. Such was the innocence and enthusiasm of these participants that even the losing teams screamed and cheered.
Rohit was so happy that he never sat quiet during the prize distribution ceremony and danced all the time. Though he was not able to speak properly, he cheered with his best.
The teams were formed on the basis of the participants’ ability after the skill-testing round organised on the inaugural day. Skill-testing was of three rounds, including shooting, dribbling and control over the ball.
Group A comprised teams of West Bengal, Karnataka, Kerala and Manipur. Wets Bengal stood first in this category while Karnataka had to be satisfied with the second position. Goa came first in the group B while Delhi came second. Other teams of the group included Haryana and Andhra Pradesh.
Hosts Madhya Pradesh made the spectators happy by winning in the Group C. Maharashtra, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and UP were the other teams of the group.
Himachal Pradesh that demonstrated excellent game on Tuesday won the group D category. West Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu were the other teams of the group. In all, 360 players of 18 states and 150 coaches participated in the tournament. Chief guest Revenue Minister Kamal Patel distributed prizes to the winners.
The participants presented cultural programmes and a march-past. Special Olympics Bharat Chairman Air Marshall (rtd) D Kieler, area director Deepankar Bennerjee, technical director Ahteshamuddin, referee board member D Dutta and others were present.
The mentally challenged set an example for others by demonstrating excellent discipline during the tournament. “Despite having problems, these participants played the tournament with great sporting spirit”, said Raghuraj, a spectator at the stadium. At the closing ceremony, the participants were seen shaking hands with each other and promising to meet again.