Our primary goal is to empower physically impaired individuals through sports - Noor Nahain, Founder and President, Bangladesh Wheelchair Sports Foundation
In 2020, Australian wheelchair tennis champion Dylan Alcott won the golden slam, becoming the first male in the history of the sport to win all major titles and the Paralympic/Olympic gold. However, it was not always a smooth ride for Alcott who admitted he “hated himself” due to his disabilities and sports completely transformed his life. It sent a clear message that sports is more than just a hobby or a recreation for many, it’s a lifestyle that can empower and transform lives, even for those who are physically challenged.
In this exclusive interview with SPOGO, Noor Nahain, Founder and President of Bangladesh Wheelchair Sports Foundation speaks about his primary goals and objectives, the standard of wheelchair cricket in Bangladesh, overcoming challenges, participation of women in Wheelchair Cricket, future goals and more!
Q 1) As Founder and President of the Bangladesh Wheelchair Sports Foundation, what are your primary goals and objectives to improve the status of disabled cricketers in the country?
On April 27, 2018, Bangladesh Wheelchair Sports Foundation started the journey. As Founder and President of the Bangladesh Wheelchair Sports Foundation, our primary goals are to establish all physically impaired persons with disability into the mainstream of society through participation in all types of para-sports such as cricket and other sports. We want to create a professional para-sports sector to improve livelihood, social prestige and build leadership capabilities so that other physically impaired persons with disabilities come forward and get inspired so that they can break free from the shell of disbelief that they are not able, that they can do anything they set their mind to.
Q 2) As vice-captain of the Bangladesh Wheelchair Cricket team, what would you consider the standard of wheelchair cricket in the country to be on par with other countries?
As a representative of wheelchair cricket in Bangladesh, I believe that the standard of wheelchair cricket in our country is good. We have a lot of talented cricketers, and many are joining us. Wheelchair cricket is spreading over the whole country, and we are glad many are coming forward to join us.
Q 3) What are some of the major challenges that you face as the President of the Bangladesh Wheelchair Sports Foundation? Are sponsorships a perennial issue in this format of the sport?
Challenges will always be there, but I believe that you have to keep on knocking at the doors of opportunities and keep moving forward. If you knock enough the doors will open. Sponsorship is a perennial issue of any kind of sport, in the beginning, it was not so different but now we get regular sponsorships. As I already said we have to keep knocking on the doors of opportunity.
Q 4) What is your role as Co-Founder and Administrative Director at Wheelchair Cricket Welfare Association Bangladesh?
In 2015, we founded the Wheelchair Cricket Welfare Association Bangladesh for working in the wheelchair cricket sector in Bangladesh. As a former Administrative Director at Wheelchair Cricket Welfare Association Bangladesh, I had the responsibilities to oversee the development of player’s skills, to conduct the training sessions, to select players for the team as well as player management.
Q 5) Tell us about the participation of women in Wheelchair Cricket? How was the reception of the 1st BWSF Women Indoor Wheelchair Cricket Championship 2021?
The participation of women in wheelchair cricket is much less than male participants. Bangladesh Wheelchair Sports Foundation has taken initiatives to promote women wheelchair cricket in Bangladesh through indoor wheelchair cricket and we organized the 1st BWSF Women Indoor Wheelchair Cricket Championship 2021 in the ‘Jatir Pita Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Para Sports Carnival 2021’. After this championship, more physically impaired women with disabilities have got the inspiration to participate in the sports.
The reception was great. In the closing ceremony of ‘Jatir Pita Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Para Sports Carnival 2021’, the hon’ble state minister of ministry of youth and sports, Mr. Md. Zahid Ahsan Russel MP was the chief guest of the program. He appreciated our initiatives that we have started women wheelchair cricket besides the men wheelchair cricket and handed over the champion and runner up trophies of the 1st BWSF Women Indoor Wheelchair Cricket Championship 2021. At this time, the general secretary of National Paralympic Committee of Bangladesh. Engi. Md. Maksudur Rahman, the advisers of BWSF Dr. Aminur Rahman Sultan and Dr. Ahmed Wasif Reza were present.
Q 6) What are your future goals and ambitions with regards to Wheelchair Cricket? How do you plan to achieve them?
When I started work in the wheelchair cricket sector, I always wanted the Bangladesh Cricket Board to recognize our initiative to make wheelchair cricket part of the board. Recently, we have got good news that our Bangladesh Cricket Board has officially created a physically challenged cricket committee for the persons with disabilities which is going to be the mother organization of all cricket. Mr. Akram Khan, former captain of Bangladesh National Cricket Team is the chairman of the committee. A few days ago, I met with him on behalf of Bangladesh Wheelchair Sports Foundation and told him about our wheelchair cricket. He has appreciated our initiatives and has told us that the physically challenged cricket committee will start cricket activities.