Pakistan: National Physical Disability T20 Championship celebrates the power of inclusion
On a bright and sunny Friday afternoon at the Moin Khan Sports Academy in Karachi two teams lined up on the cricket pitch for the final face-off of the National Physical Disability Cricket Twenty20 Championship.
As excitement peaked, the toss of a coin determined that the Islamabad team would bat first and the Bahawalpur team, which had won against defending champions Multan in the semifinals, would chase. Though this wasn't Islamabad team's first time qualifying for the finals, the Bahawalpur team did not seem phased.
Bahawalpur maintained a tight fielding approach, restricting Islamabad to a final score of 134 runs, and beat them with impeccable batting in the second innings to take the trophy for 2021's National Physical Disability Cricket T20 Championship.
The game was organized by the Pakistan Physical Disability Cricket Association (PDCA), supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Shahid Afridi Foundation to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The ICRC started supporting the championship in 2017 as part of its continued efforts to promote social inclusion of people with disabilities through sports.
With his incredible performance, Bahawalpur's Muhammad Noman earned the title of "Man of the Series", while the "Man of the Match" award went to Bahawalpur's Abid Hussain.
From Islamabad, Wasiq Shah's bowling gained him the "Best Bowler" title. A special award was also announced for Hafiz Ghulam Muhammad who scored four centuries in the series and broke the national record for fastest century by scoring 100 runs out of 27 balls.
Veteran cricketer and national hero Moin Khan, along with head of ICRC subdelegation in Peshawar Farrukh Islamov and representatives of the Shahid Afridi Foundation, distributed medals and cash prizes to the players. Saleem Karim, the founder of PDCA and an ardent supporter of sports for the physically disabled in Pakistan, also distributed cash prizes on behalf of PDCA.
Karim expressed his joy at seeing the young athletes' performance on the pitch. "It was my dream to play cricket but there was no platform. So, it gives me great pleasure to see these young athletes doing what I did not have the opportunity to do in my time," he said, adding that different companies should consider sponsoring the athletes' training.
The ICRC has been supporting physical rehabilitation in Pakistan since the 1980s through its physical rehabilitation programme, providing assistive devices and artificial limbs and training professionals as per international standards. The programme aims to enable mobility, advocate accessibility and support local ventures in promoting dignified visibility of people with disabilities in the public sphere.