Meet thirty-year-old Mohammad Rafee Parray, a paralyzed athlete who is giving his blood, sweat and tears to wheelchair basketball. That’s not it; the man also wants to give hopes to those who are dealing with long-term paralysis.
Rafee was born with a Hemangioma facial tumor. The condition is so severe that the medical specialists could not take the risk to eliminate it; they said it’s way too dangerous.
While his life was already harsh enough, in 2010, he accidentally fell down from the roof of his house and got paralyzed. Ever since then, he hasn’t been able to walk.
The 30-year-old said, “On 12th May 2010 I fell down from the roof of my house. I was paralyzed and went into depression. I didn’t do anything. I was completely bedridden. I was really depressed.”
“I was immobile and it was very hard for me to accept the reality.”
Mohammad’s life turned upside down when he luckily found basketball at the Voluntary Medicare Society in Srinagar – a community which aids people with disabilities. The fortunate man joined the wheelchair basketball team immediately.
He said, “In 2013 I started playing wheelchair basketball. The Voluntary Medicare Society provided us the wheelchairs.”
At first, it was very tough for Rafee to play the game in a wheelchair.
He said, “Initially, I would think that it is impossible to play basketball in a wheelchair. How would you play? Will you look after your wheelchair or pick up the ball? First we learned how to move and handle the wheelchair, and then how to play basketball in a wheelchair.”
“It was difficult in the beginning but now it’s easy. I told myself, ‘I must keep going with my life,” he added.
Despite having no basketball experience in the past, Mohammad Rafee had tremendous potential to become one of the best in the team – and he achieved his target in quite a short span of time!
He said, “I started it just as a game but gradually we started taking it forward and reached national levels.”
“My dream is to play at an international level.”
Rafee’s friend who is also the captain of the team, Waseem Ahmad Dar, is another paralyzed person who battled depression and anxiety after being involved in a horrible accident. The 29-year-old says basketball has played a huge role in changing his miserable life into a happy one.
He said, “My accident happened in 2013. I would sit at home and think my life is over now.”
“One day, a sponsor visited the center. They suggested we put a team together for wheelchair basketball. It was a great move as almost all of us were depressed after the accidents.”
Waseem further told that playing such a fast-paced game in a wheelchair was challenging at first.
He said, “It was extremely difficult to play in the wheelchair. Earlier, we didn’t think about it because we were normal people, we were living a normal life and could walk around anywhere with our legs.”
Rafee, Waseem and the rest of their teammates not only got rid of their depression but also were able to become famous after winning competitions in several states of India.
Waseem said, “The players got mental satisfaction from this. We are having a lot of fun. Now, girls are also joining our wheelchair basketball team.”
All thanks for these transformation goes to one person: Nasreen Rasool. She is an audacious young lady who works at the rehab center. 28-year-old Nasreen is also the team coach.
She said, “Most of the spinal injury cases are due to accidents and the ongoing armed conflict in Kashmir. After the accidents, many of them tried to commit suicide but now they are recovering. The sport has made them happy.”
Waseem and his team are now renowned across the country – and rightly so; they have worked really hard to grasp every aspect of this complex sport.
Team captain, Waseem said, “There are hundreds of people who suffer from back injuries. We played in many states of India. People want to join our team now. Girls are also interested in playing basketball with us. This is definitely making us proud.”
“The response of people is becoming our strength,” he added.
Rafee finally paid his regard to basketball. According to him, basketball has changed his life forever. He said, “Basketball changed our lives. We feel like we can do whatever we wish.”
“If we can play basketball, we can do anything in this world.”