Around 15 years ago, a tragic accident not only shattered the dreams of a Budgam woman of becoming a doctor but also confined her to a wheelchair. But nothing stopped her from working hard and becoming the first wheelchair-bound basketball player of Kashmir.
Insha Bashir (29), a resident of Beerwah area of Budgam, despite her disability, is climbing the ladder of success, not only for herself but also helping other specially-abled children to make their dreams come true. Insha said, “I was not disabled from birth. I had a regular life like every other girl. When I was in 12th grade, I had been diagnosed with gastric ulcers and suffered oral bleeding. In the same year, one day, I was at the terrace with dizziness and nausea and started vomiting blood from where I fell down and hit the ground underneath, resulting in grievous injuries to my spine.”
“It wasn’t just a spinal cord injury, but this incident shattered my dream of becoming a doctor and made me wholly and solely dependent on my family. I started suffering from depression, facing taunts from relatives and other issues. My health started deteriorating despite full support from my family,” she said.
“Despite facing the entire trauma, though I had to change my subjects, I continued my studies and passed the 12th grade. Then I pursued a bachelor’s degree and B.Ed as well, and currently, I am pursuing a master’s in social work,” Insha said.
“My dad’s deteriorating health pushed me to take charge of my life. And so, I began researching my condition and what I could do about it. I came across the Shafqat Rehabilitation Center in Srinagar that gave six months of physiotherapy,” she recalls. Her father, her steadfast cornerstone, had been diagnosed with Parkinsonism, and this proved to be the final nail in the coffin, ensuring that she finally mustered enough strength to stand up on her own feet.
After repeated attempts by her father, Bashir Ahmad Wani, and constant counselling sessions by Dr. Saleem Wani- the valley’s famous urologist, Insha was able to overcome this difficult phase of her life.
“Though it took me a long time to accept this reality, when I realized it, I started taking everything positively and saw my disability as a challenge that had become a hurdle. At the center, when I saw more people with more complex problems than me, it gave me the courage that I am not the only person who is facing this problem in the world. When I saw specially-abled boys playing basketball and other games in a very happy mood, it reignited my childhood inclination towards it as well,” she added.
“Once I overcame my initial hesitation, I found the game to be enjoyable, convenient, and suitable to partake in, from a wheelchair. I found the game very interesting, and it got me impelled by the enthusiasm of representing Jammu & Kashmir,” she said.
“I was the first wheelchair-bound woman from Kashmir to play basketball. I started training others, and in some time, a team was ready following which I played at the national and international levels and won many medals,” Insha said.
She represented India in the US in 2019 and participated in the National Championship as the captain of the J&K Wheelchair Basketball Women’s team in 2019. Besides that, she was invited by the US consulate to be a part of the prestigious Sports Visitor Program.
She now motivates and inspires others in the valley to overcome their inhibitions and impediments and take up sporting pursuits.
“Besides playing and training my team, my major area of focus is to encourage differently-abled girls in sports, not just in Kashmir but across the country, and ensure that they have a say in their own lives,” she said.
She practices on a daily basis following a professional schedule. After practice, she returns to the hostel and mentors, counsels, and instructs young girls who wish to rise beyond their struggles and play like her.
“My message to other specially-abled persons will be that your disability isn’t the end of life. Rather, you need to be courageous to fight all odds and overcome challenges,” she said. “If one of your organs isn’t functioning, your brain is working and that is enough to dream and work on your dreams to make them come true.”—(KNO)