By Ria Das
Beerwah, Jan 28, 2019: Inshah Bashir, who hails from Budgam district’s area in Kashmir, recalls herself as a sober and patient child. Now 24, Inshah fell from a height of 40 feet in her own under-construction house in 2008 and lost the ability to walk.
However, she accepted the challenge that is life. She was interested in basketball and she qualified for the National Championship in Hyderabad, in 2017.
Inshah trains in a special training camp set up for specially-abled children and is looking forward to participating in the Sports Visitor Program 2019 in the US.
SheThePeople.TV catches up with her about her experiences at the national platform, avenues for differently-abled women sportspersons and she got her self-confidence back.
How was your basketball team formed?
Actually, there was no particular team for girls. I was the first among the girls to show an interest in basketball. I played with the boys’ team and later at the national level in 2017, I got selected in a team as “Rest of India.”
What inspired you to take up basketball?
At a rehabilitation center in the valley named Shafqat Rehabilitation Center, I saw some people like me and even in worse condition than me playing basketball. They suggested me to join them. At first, I felt I may not be able to do it, but then I did, and also felt this game is interesting and convenient to play on a wheelchair.
Tell us about the accident that changed your life and how did you overcome those times?
I was just 15, a 12th standard student, when I met with an accident. I fell in my under construction home from a height of 40 feet and my life shattered thereafter. In the beginning, it was tough. I suffered a spinal injury and underwent surgery but it was not successful. Not being able to walk on my legs and lack of medical care taught me the struggles of life. Wheelchair became my only support.
It took me a lot of courage to overcome that trauma. My family and friends supported me to fight back and encouraged me to find my lost will power. It is nine years of struggle which is paying off now as I got an invitation from the US Consulate to participate in the Sports Visitor Program 2019. It will definitely be a new height for me.
You are the first female wheelchair basketball player from the Kashmir and recently astonished everybody with your performance. When did you realize your passion for the sport?
There was always a sportsperson in me from childhood. I used to participate in games like cricket, volleyball at the district level in school. Then at the rehabilitation center after about eight years, I found out that wheelchair basketball will be my future. I got my enthusiasm back, but this time in wheelchair basketball, which I felt is interesting. I represent Jammu and Kashmir, and try to make the sport popular in the valley so that people like me are motivated to play the game.
Who was the inspiration behind the team?
It was Jammu and Kashmir boys’ wheelchair basketball team. Their hard work inspired us. I am not a captain yet, but in the future, I would like to become one of my Women Wheelchair basketball team.
From battling accident to making it to the national sporting event, balancing a career, what drives you towards the sport? What does it mean to you?
I spent eight years in my room. Every day I felt I was getting deeper into depression. The silent sparks for sports got buried deep down due to that tragic accident. Eventually, it drove me towards sports when I got a chance in the rehabilitation center. For me, it is a life-changing move because it made me busy which in turn built my mental peace and also my physique up to an extent. It is my path which motivates me to prove my potential to the world.
Speaking of workouts, tell us about your fitness and exercise routine.
I go to the gym on a daily basis and follow a regular schedule. I follow a specific diet chart fixed by my coach. In addition, I practice my game every day.
What are the biggest challenges that come in your way?
The first challenge was to accept that I am wheelchair bound now. The second was to reinvent myself after the accident. The third challenge was the lack of infrastructure in our state as there are no accessible buildings, parks and basketball courts, etc. And the fourth one is what every disabled person faces in our country, lack of disabled-friendly environment.
Again, lack of facilities from the state as well as central government.
Does J&K have an academy where players get training? How many girls are there?
No, unfortunately not. Seeing me getting featured in the media, many girls now are embracing this game, but our state doesn’t help in building any such academy.
What do you think India lacks in terms of appreciating all kinds of sports?
As far as India is concerned, we do have good potential in terms of talent, but the gap in infrastructure and coaching facilities are not properly addressed. I am hopeful that after our visit from the USA the government will take initiative regarding the same.
What is your core passion and long-term vision?
My core passion is to excel in this game. As far as my long-term vision is concerned, I want to become a ray of hope for those who have accepted disability as their destiny. I want to help bring out their hidden talents and give their will power a boost.
Do you face any struggles for sponsors to continue with your passion?
Yes, I do face. I have no sponsors. Well, sometimes it becomes very challenging to fulfil my basic necessity of day-to-day life.
How has sports liberated women in India? Do women now seek to take up this professionally?
Only if they get the facilities from the government, more women will try to take up sports as a profession. Sports is a new field for women, especially in the case of India. Be it wrestling in Haryana, be it boxing or shooting, badminton or tennis, etc.
The women of India have channelized new energy through sports. This new energy has generated a feeling of liberation.
What would be your advice for aspiring girls?
My advice to every aspirant girl is to never stop just because they think they are going to be judged. If it is what you really want to do, do it from your heart, and be an inspiration to others.
What are the chances for specially-abled girls from Kashmir to take up the sport? Do they get as much exposure and enthusiasm as they deserve?
Opportunities are there but not for people like us. Sometimes we feel ignored by the authorities, hence we have to struggle a lot. The government has not delivered on the promised facilities, accessible stadiums, buildings, ramps for the disabled. We definitely don’t get the desired exposure and enthusiasm.
If the girls are properly trained and coached, they have a bright future in any sports and will not only make the state proud but the country as well.