Meet the gritty Warriors on Wheels

Impact can be of two kinds, good and bad. But some people, hit by certain existent anomalies, do not exemplify the impact with just black and white tags.

Nikhil Kumaar Gupta suffered a C5 spinal cord injury, after his head hit the floor of the swimming pool, where he tried diving in. Ever since that fateful day he has suffered total paralysis of wrists, hands, trunk and legs. Though he can speak, his breathing has weakened.

The Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, a hospital where he went often, had introduced a game of rugby for rehabilitation of spinal cord injury persons.

Gupta is one of the founder of a trust called Empowering Spinal Cord Injured Person where they introduced various events like ‘Danger Disco’ thus enabling wheelchair users to dance on Bollywood songs and share their gaiety.

Soon a rugby team called Warriors on Wheels, was developed and now has 25 members who play rugby every weekend in Kailash Colony.

“We are set around Delhi NCR and we have now built a new team in Mumbai which will be registered in February 2015. We also have a camp in Haryana and Punjab,’’ Gupta told Metrolife.

To participate in the National Games, paraplegics and quadriplegics need
to have teams in at least five states.“Last year in November, we went to Korea for friendly games, and we played against Korea, Malaysia and Thaila­nd. We also won against the Malaysian and Thai teams,” Gupta said.

Through these games the paraplegics and quadriplegics have learnt the rules of national level games and also bettered their strategy-making skills.“For entering Asian Games at least three limbs should be impacted, and we have members who are impacted with polio whose hands are also affected, cerebral palsy, and muscular
dystrophy apart from spinal cord injured persons,’’ he informed.

Through this game the wheelchair-bound persons learnt skills like balancing on a wheelchair, hand functioning, as they need to propel the ball very fast, and this has made them strong.

Rajendra from Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, injured in 2000 said he gained courage to stand up on his feet as along with “physical independence, financial independence was as important”. He now works at a Vodafone call centre.

The coach, who heads the Delhi Lions Rugby football club, says “they are unable to play in May-August and are looking for indoor courts, as in varying seasons they are unable to regulate their body temperature.’’

He has gotten attached emotionally to them and wishes they play the Para
National Games, scheduled to be held in Kerala in March 2015. “They would probably make the best team,’’ he added.

Indian Wheelchair Rugby is on Facebook and is an independent and self-funded club of wheelchair users. Gupta and his team are determined to play in the Para Asian Games and aim to “at least fetch a Bronze medal for our country.”

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