The first edition of Khelo India Para Games 2023 was organised from 10th -17th December 2023 across seven sports disciplines with the approximate participation of 1,500 athletes
Reported By: Syed Mohammed Afnan | January 3, 2024 हिन्दी में पढ़े
New Delhi: 22-year-old Mahesh is a footballer with cerebral palsy. Goalkeeper for the Manipur team, he is playing at the national level for the first time at the Khelo India Para Games. Baroon, his teammate, also lives with cerebral palsy. He was just ten when he gave up playing football because he was never included in any team. Now, 17 years later, he is representing his state at the Khelo India Para Games. Their win in this match is especially astounding because the team was formed just about a month ago.
Baroon Yumnam, a player from team Manipur said,
“For the cerebral palsy people, this is the foundation to motivate them. If I get selected in an Indian team, I will do my best.”
The first edition of Khelo India Para Games 2023 is being organised from December 10, 2023 till December 17, across three venues in the city of Delhi. Seven sports disciplines include Para Archery, Par Athletics, Para Badminton, Para Table Tennis, Para Powerlifting, Cerebral Palsy Football, and Para Shooting with the approximate participation of 1,500 athletes.
“There’s a huge, huge push for persons with disability,” said Kavita Suresh, Secretary of Cerebral Palsy Sports Federation of India. She explained,
“It is not just about the eight teams that are participating here, but also about thousands of people who are watching it on television, who are getting aware that there is something called cerebral palsy and there is something for persons with cerebral palsy in the form of sports.”
The Khelo India Para Games come off the back of some historic performances by India’s para athletes – at a series of international events. The national platform is helping create crucial awareness within the country. It is not only showcasing India’s Para athletes, but also catapulting young Para sporting talent onto the national stage.
“Khelo India is the game of our country,” said Deepa Malik, President of the Paralympic Committee of India and 2016 Paralympic Silver medalist in the Shot Put F53 event. The Padma Shri, Khel Ratna & Arjuna Awardee, Ms Malik added,
“Khelo India is a platform where all the athletes have been absorbed into the ecosystem. The new athletes have come from different parts of the country and they are personally meeting, interacting and even performing alongside Paralympic medallists. This will give them that boost, that encouragement, that inspiration.”
It is the celebration of this vast potential that the Khelo India para games have sought to unleash. And of course, the event also had plenty of star power on display. Gold medallist at the para archery matches – who else but Sheetal Devi.
Double Gold Medallist in Para Archery at the Asian Para Games 2023, Sheetal Devi said,
“Today, I have won a medal in my own country, and I feel elated to win a medal here. Children like us must participate in events like Khelo India. There were many participants like myself today, and I felt happy to watch them play.”
The ultimate goal of the Khelo India Para Games is to cultivate the spirit of sport in our young generation, who are living with a disability. So the next time a child in a wheelchair dreams of playing a sport, they can shift their focus from ‘how can I?’ to ‘how I can, too!’
Samarth by Hyundai in partnership with NDTV, is an initiative that seeks to promote inclusivity, change perceptions, and enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities.