Over 100 takes part in wheelchair sports at Noida Stadium
The exhibition match at Noida Indoor Stadium was attended by over 100 wheelchair users, who also participated in other wheelchair sports such as wheelchair basketball, wheelchair football, and wheelchair hurdles
In 2008, Nikhil Gupta was a 25-year-old software engineer when he suffered a spinal cord injury that left him quadriplegic. However, Gupta refused to let his disability define him and instead, he turned to wheelchair rugby and became an international champion.
The 40-year-old now leads the Wheelchair Rugby Federation of India and practices at the Noida Stadium in Sector 21A, inspiring others like him to lead an active life despite being wheelchair-bound.
Gupta was part of a team of national and international players who held an exhibition match to commemorate Spinal Cord Injury Day as part of the ongoing National Injury Prevention Week (September 1-7) at Noida Indoor Stadium.
“Initially, I felt like I had lost everything after my accident,” Gupta said. “But during therapy, I discovered this game of wheelchair rugby, which was only being played as recreation at that time. But I decided to take it further and in 2014, founded the federation and have represented India at three international tournaments.”
Wheelchair rugby is a fast-paced, full-contact sport that is played by two teams of four players each. The players use their wheelchairs to propel themselves around the court and score points by passing the ball through the opponent’s goal.
Gupta is a key member of the Indian wheelchair rugby team. He is known for his speed, agility, and strength. He is also a passionate advocate for the sport and is committed to raising awareness of spinal cord injuries.
“I want to inspire others who have been injured to never give up on their dreams,” Gupta said.
The exhibition match at Noida Indoor Stadium was attended by over 100 wheelchair users, who also participated in other wheelchair sports such as wheelchair basketball, wheelchair football, and wheelchair hurdles.
While the whole event took place in physical mode at Noida, it was streamed virtually in other cities including Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Cuttack, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Patna, and Bhopal.
23-year-old Sooraj Gautam said that he thoroughly enjoyed the hurdle race. “In May 2020, the roof of our house collapsed, and my spine got injured, leaving me wheelchair bound. I used to dream of becoming a dancer, but right now I am not sure what I will do in my life. I am only focused on taking therapy so I can walk again someday,” said Gautam, who is a resident of Bhadohi and takes therapy at a Neuro Rehabilitation centre called ‘Mission Walk’ in Greater Noida, which provides therapy to survivors coming from lower-economic backgrounds at affordable fees.
The event also featured high-energy cultural dance performances and wheelchair stunts by professionals.
Dr. Harvinder Singh Chhabra, president of the Spinal Cord Society, said that the event was a great way to raise awareness of spinal cord injuries and to promote wheelchair sports.
“Through the wheelchair sports and dance activities today we wanted to spread the message that able-bodied should take a cue from innumerable examples of persons in wheelchairs who not only overcome the challenge posed by their disability using the power of the mind, their special abilities and staying positive, but also come out stronger and more successful achieving great goals,” said Dr. Chhabra.
The third edition of National Injury Prevention Week is being observed under the aegis of the Directorate of General of Health Services (DGHS), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India.