Top 5 Disabled Asians In Sport
This week Entouraaj pays tribute to the clubs for disabled sports people and the stars who have become ambassadors.
Mandy Sanghera, a human rights activist and government adviser, believes sport can help transform attitudes in the Asian community towards disabilities. She said: “I think sport can give disabled people an equal platform regardless of their disability. “I think the 2012 Olympics proved that as many professional disabled sport men and women are just as good as any able bodied sport person.
“We need to get rid of our hang ups within the Asian community and start treating them as equals. I am honoured to be part of charities like Include Me Too. “We need to start getting behind our disabled sport men and women, they are positive role models.”
Here is a look at five groundbreaking people involved in disabled sport:
Manchester United Deaf Team
The Red Devils first entered a team into the England Deaf Cup in 2012 and have developed a programme which has grown into one of the biggest in the Premier League. United’s Ability Counts programme for adults and teenagers with a disability. Among the players in its deaf team is winger Akeel Tahir.
The engineering student, who met United goalkeeper David De Gea as part of a Kick It Out Campaign, is an ambassador to encouraging more ethnic minorities to play the game.
England Deaf Cricket Team
Umesh Valjee MBE is captain of the side and has been involved in the sport for over 20 years. The England Disability Cricketer of the Year in 2011 has risen to the top of the game from playing for his local club in Stanmore, north London .
One of the highlights of his career was making three hundreds in a row during the Ashes series in Australia in 2011. He was coached by Joe Hussain, the father of ex England skipper Nasser Hussain, for five years.
Umesh wears the No. 1 shirt for the England deaf team because he is their longest-serving player having first signed in 1989 aged 19. Cricket for disabled players is thriving. The England Cricket Association for the Deaf recently announced that the first Twenty20 competition will be held.
And Qasim Ali has been named as the new head coach of the England Physical Disability Team after being promoted from his role as assistant coach.
Few stories are more inspiring than Sohail’s.
He played football until the age of 13 but was told by doctors he would need a wheelchair due to a back condition called spinal muscular atrophy. Sohail then launched a career as a football coach. He is a member of the Manchester United Disabled Supporters’ Association and received a letter from then-manager Sir Alex Ferguson congratulating him.
Sohail, a fully qualified Football Association coach, has created a scheme to develop young players called Class on Grass. The Bradford-based coach has been offered roles with the Newcastle United foundation and a soccer school owned by Leeds striker Ross McCormack.
Rikin is a UEFA Level B football coach who has a condition called Muscular Dystrophy, a condition that gradually causes the muscles to weaken.
Since 11 years of age he was involved in disability football and four years later won a Junior Sports Leadership Award. The marketing assistant from London is a keen wheelchair footballer created a new Powerchair football club for people who use an electric wheelchair.
He has worked with the DASH soccer school and the charity run by former Blackburn Rovers player Jason Roberts MBE as well as Kick It Out.
Saleem is a leading disabled golfer from Pakistan.
The 47-year-old finished fourth in the British Open Championships in 2012 and has been an ambassador for the game along with Abid Sattar. Saleem was the only Pakistani golfer who competed in last year’s World Disabled Golf Championship and he won the Team Championship in Glasgow.
He will defend his trophy in Japan in September at the World Disabled Championship. The Lahore-based sportsman has been supported by the Punjab Golf Association and Pakistan Golf Federation.