When I worked on Youth Ki Awaaz’s campaign #Access4All to advocate for accessibility for people with disabilities, I had the pleasure of getting to interact with some very interesting people. One such individual is Mohammad Mohasin, an avid cricketer from Bangladesh, the President and Founder of the Wheelchair Cricket Welfare Association of Bangladesh, and Captain of Bangladesh’s Wheelchair Cricket team.
Mohasin, 28, eats, breathes, sleeps cricket, and it is not surprising that he is at the helm of several organisations that promote wheelchair cricket, as well as sports for people with disabilities in Bangladesh. “Disabled cricket is kind of a slow game comparatively to non-disabled cricket due to the fitness issue. But we follow the same rules and regulations as per ICC like non-disabled cricket,” explains Mohasin, who lives in Dhaka with his wife Lija and daughter Yeasha. If you want to get a taste of the game, here’s a cool clip of Mohasin and his team in action.
Mohammad’s love affair with cricket started at the age of 12 when he began playing with his classmates. The sight of a teenager in a wheelchair batting with gusto seemed a fascinating sight for local people in his village Morkun in Gazipur district, and they would especially come to watch him bat. As he grew older, he finished school, completed graduation through the open schooling system and set up a telecom shop to support his family. But Mohasin could not get cricket out of his mind.
“Why not start a wheelchair cricket team?” he thought to himself. Ever since the idea struck, Mohasin has left no stone unturned to make it work, especially since wheelchair cricket players are excluded from para-cricket teams. The journey, of course, was paved with problems as most of the organisations he approached refused support. But the cricket-crazy Mohasin stuck to his guns and eventually got support from Harunur Rashid, a coach and a front line cricket organiser for wheelchair cricketers in India.
Together they navigated several roadblocks that crop up when sports and a disability are involved – from financial support to mindset problems. Eventually, the Wheelchair Cricket Welfare Association Bangladesh was established in 2014, and they began organising and training the players to develop the game. In 2014, Bangladesh’s disabled cricket team came to India for the Taj Mahal Trophy under Mohasin’s captaincy. They lost a match but took home the trophy. Recalls Mohasin, “It was great pleasure for me to get chance in playing such a tournament along with huge love and cooperating people in India. Yes, we lost first match as our one of the finest player was sick and rest of the players were nervous. But we came back with full spirit in rest of the matches, which gives us success.”
Over the last few years, Mohasin has also become an ambassador of sorts for accessibility in Dhaka. He conceptualised “Odommo”, an accessibility project under the Dhaka Hub of Global Shapers Community, a youth organisation that is committed to the development of Dhaka. Odommo recently collaborated with Bata to make their Dhaka store accessible in time for World Disability Day (December 3, 2016). Here’s a cool picture of Mohasin testing out their ramp. The idea of Odommo is to create accessibility for people with all kinds of disabilities (Odommo means “indomitable” in Bangla).
He’s also an ambassador for sports in general and is especially supportive of sports for children from underserved communities. Here he is with the champions of the TaalGoal Football Tournament 2016.
Mohasin is now focused on the next milestone – the Asia Cup in Malaysia in 2017, where the Bangladesh team hopes to compete with wheelchair cricket teams from the Indian sub-continent and beyond. He is working hard to gather financial support to get the team ready. “Earlier the scenario was too difficult as people very rarely imagined that the disabled can play outdoor games in Bangladesh. But we have proved through wheelchair cricket that this is possible. Things are now changing, and we are getting lots of interested people and players, also,” he says with conviction.
Mohasin’s story is part of a series on Youth Ki Awaaz, to help support the dreams and aspirations of young sportspersons, who need our encouragement and cheers, not only during the Olympics but all through the year, every year. This series is dedicated to their inspiring stories and spirits!