UAE champions the cause of physically challenged players

Joydeep Sen Gupta/Dubai
Filed on April 16, 2021
Six teams participated in the maiden Divyang Premier League (DPL), which was inspired by the Indian Premier League (IPL), at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. (Supplied photo)

DPL is the brainchild of Haroon Rasheed, the general secretary of the Divyang Cricket Control Board of India (DCCBI)

Divyang, which in the Hindi language loosely translates to a person with a divine body, got a new connotation, thanks to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

PM Modi had suggested in December 2015, that persons with disabilities should no longer be referred to as disabled persons, or what the UAE’s wise and visionary leadership calls them as people of determination.

A new identity for Indians found a novel expression with PM Modi’s coinage.

Indian people of determination found a new expression because of the maiden Divyang Premier League (DPL), which was inspired by the Indian Premier League (IPL), and played at Sharjah Cricket Stadium between April 8 and 15.

Stunning one-handed catches, bowlers with a deformed bowling hand, fielders with running disability, and batsmen with severe physical challenges made the gentleman's game their own with their unbridled passion.

DPL, the brainchild of Haroon Rasheed, the general secretary of the Divyang Cricket Control Board of India (DCCBI) and an enthusiastic cricketer from Agra, India, whose budding cricketing career was cut short due to a back injury, couldn't have found a better venue than the UAE.

The young nation, known for tolerance, empathy and generosity, has made its mission statement to support people of determination.

And it was only fitting that the organisers hosted the event at the iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium where players, whose individual tales of grit and determination embody human resilience, overcame seemingly insurmountable odds.

Some players also doubled up as managers of their respective teams, as funds were few and far between.

Modelled on the IPL, the six teams that took part in the tournament were: Chennai Super Stars, Delhi Challengers, Kolkata Knight Fighters, Mumbai Ideals, Gujarat Hitters and Rajasthan Rajwada.

Rasheed put his heart and soul into organising the maiden tournament, despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We may not be a rich entity like the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), but we dared to dream. Our players’ desire to play on the same stage, where the 13th edition of the IPL was held last year, got us going. We may be low on resources, but certainly high on spirits and motivation,” Rasheed said.

However, the DCCBI authorities found a massive challenge following a lack of sponsorship.

Fortunately, they could overcome the challenge because of Mobile Premier League (MPL), which came forward to lend a helping hand.

What next for the fledgling league?

Plans are afoot to make the maiden tournament an annual affair like the IPL. The successful IPL's template has been borrowed to bid players of determination from other cricket-playing nations as well from next year onwards.

The DCCBI authorities are also keen to organise international tournaments like an India-Bangladesh or India-Pakistan series in a bid to promote both the game and the players of determination.

An ennobling thought and an idea, whose time has come under the patronage of the UAE, which is playing a leading role as the champion for the people of determination.

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