This list of quotes will be a work-in-progress from all conversations I share with Indians who have disabilities and are attempting to seek full participation in organized AdaptedSportsIndia programs within the country.
WheelChair Basketball Players, Coaches & Administrators
There are no clear cut guidelines Padmini!
There is so much confusion about everything and such lack of consistency that at times we don’t even know what is going to happen next!
Your wheelchairs are not good for competition, why wouldn’t your federation work on good equipment before putting you out here? [At an international tournament]
Get RGK chairs, they are best. Oh! They are expensive. Yeah! If you want to play, you have to figure it out.
Motivation UK wheelchairs that we get here in India are very bad. I have travelled outside India, I have tried the chairs that my friends from other countries use. The stuff that Motivation UK sells in India is very low quality madam. But we have no other option. Other wise there is China maal (Hindi for stuff).
Padmini! I will not repeat the same story you just heard from all these players. I will use one sentence. There is no sustainable thought leadership
Athletes spend their own money and then suddenly as soon as the events are over, there is a vaccum in what needs to be done next. They love playing the game but have no understanding of the ecosystem.
She was an early bird! And unfortunately in the present ecosystem that is in place in India, the early bird doesn’t just get the worm, it gets every worm after the first one because we [Indians] are good at blocking the line and not let anyone else in after us. That is our style of functioning and leadership. We stay in the front of the line and pass down the left-overs of what we consume. That is what is exactly happening with WBFI.
Local host as a concept has high importance and WBFI doesn’t value it at all. I don’t think they have an understanding of the concept.
Wheelchair basketball ke matches ko ‘event management’ ki tarah handle kartein hain, sports management ka toh madam aap naam math lo please, hasee aathi hai (Wheelchair basketball matches are handled under an ‘event management’ concept. Don’t take the name of sport management. I am going to burst out laughing.
After four years, we still don’t have even five good classifiers in India. We are periodically dependent on the foreign coaches who come into India every now and then to classify us correctly.
Bas humko door se dekhe ek number dedethen hain (They see us from far and give us a random number)
I got one number assigned here in India and when I went abroad, I was thrown into a different class. It was very upsetting because I was like wow! I’ve been playing in the wrong class. So is my learning about classification wrong? As an athlete I read the IWBF rule book and understood classification. So it drives us mad ma’m. But we will not talk about it because it will put us in trouble if we come back and ask any questions to Madhavi or Kalyani ma’m. They are very dismissive and often times change the topic when we ask for any clarifications.
Why can’t local professionals be involved? Why are people flown in from certain specific areas of the country? Why hasn’t there been efforts to prepare local professionals so that players can continue to have access locally? Madam, aap bathao, aap Telugu speaking ho, aapko jaake Orissa mein coaching karo boletho kya aap acche context ke saath coaching kar paayengi? [Madam, you tell me, you speak Telugu, if someone asks you to go coach in Orissa, will you have an understanding of the context to coach?] Aap mazaak mein haan keh saktein hain lekin wahan jaake paseena niklega aapko to even get the people together [You may funnily say yeah I canbut if you go there in reality and attempt to, you will begin to sweat it out to bring it all together]. Reality of including language diversity as a concept ma’m! I have studied in my PG. So humne bhi thoda seekha hai! [So I also have studied something!].
If coaches don’t understand classification, it is a very bad situation you see!
The 14-point rule is so important and I will bet with you, half the players right now are clueless of its significance and why IWBF mandates a 14-point team
WBFI fails to use the existing bank of resources at district and state levels. They want everything ‘new’ every single time. There is no renewed contacts and continued connections in how they work.
Madhavi and Kalyani are not cognizant of what the ground reality of wheelchair accessibility in India is like. Or they probably know and like many others working in the field express their voluntary ignorance to the topic. So much is being done by us, can’t you step up your efforts a little bit more is a common tone we hear Padmini!
There is nothing like a long-term development plan from WBFI. In January 2018, you won’t know what will happen in February or June 2018. Short-term and long-term plans are all done a few weeks ahead of the actual event. Then we are expected to just fall in line or we won’t have future opportunities is a common response.
At the ******* event, there were some youngsters I know who sat in competitive wheelchairs for the very first time in their lives. And then they went home into being lost in the millions. There is nothing for them to come back to until there is another round of aggressive recruitment happening and they are shown the incentive to ‘qualify’ for international events.
They [leadership at WBFI] are reluctant to learn because they consider themselves the best in the field Padmini. It doesn’t matter if I am willing to volunteer my time and teach them.
WBFI doesn’t care about grass-roots development didi (Hindi for sister)! Unko bas unke events acchese hona hai aur Madhavi ma’m ko unka target miss nahi karna hai! [They only want their events to happen successfully and Madhavi ma’m wants to meet her targets] It doesn’t matter if that is achieved by putting pressure on us!
If there is no strong teacher, there are no strong students ma’m!
Before sending out the email forcing us to conduct a workshop, did they even ask us what the local challenges and needs are? Do they even know if we have wheelchairs?
Oh yeah! we have state associations but we have no clue what we are doing.
[I asked, “Why would you register a state-level organization without even knowing what you should do?”]
I either registered the organization they asked me to, or I wouldn’t have had a chance to participate in the events during 2016. We also were asked to give an undertaking with signatures stating that we will form a state association as a registered body.
I have to work from home and manage figuring out this mess that WBFI has created. If I choose to take a job in an office setting, the transport is going to cost me so much that I should stop paying for my rehabilitation services. I can choose either transport or post-operative rehab. This is my reality and every time I approach Madhavi ma’m’s organization saying we cannot take this pressure they say you have to if you want affiliation from us.
Haha! [their] favourite line is “Don’t give excuses. If there is a will there is a way”
I don’t think they have made up their mind about affiliations for state associations. And I am sure they won’t give any too! They are just making us do free work at state level so they can continue to keep international affiliation.
They know people in our state that they work with. Be it for wheelchairs or facilities/stadium and transport. But they will not give any of those leads to us. There is this ‘you do everything’ yourself and learn attitude. And ma’m every time I get such a response I feel like leaving wheelchair basketball forever because that feels like they don’t know or don’t want to know the reality we deal with on a daily basis. Anywhere we go in our city they say come through Madhavi. It is like a one gate entry only and the key for it is with Madhavi ma’m
They [WBFI leadership] is very close to this corporate body in our state. So suddenly there has been pressure to put down our efforts. Sometimes I wonder as a woman who passed only 7th class I am able to wonder how funds are coming to these people, how come such a big corporation is giving money in a non-stop manner?
Her husband is a very influential person. You will be in trouble if you say things against her. No one will believe your words. Hearing these words I felt how is this field different from anywhere else where we are bullied as women with disabilities. Irony is here we are being spoken to like this by women only!
There are often times questions on classification procedures from athletes as we see different processes followed at each event. Sometimes, coaches and WBFI leadership just decides our classification while seeing us roll around in our chairs or while playing. So we wait for these foreign people to show up for camps and training. We learn so much just seeing them coach or instruct!
I have agreed to do the summer camp as I don’t have another choice. I refuse this, I am out of their communications very soon. The results of defying them are so instant that you wouldn’t even realize which direction you got hit from ma’m! Suddenly you will feel like an outcast in the way they treat you.
To be able to participate in the 2016 National Camp, we had to provide an undertaking that we will form a state association. Otherwise we were told we wouldn’t be allowed to participate. So we just quickly formed an association.
Being women themselves, at times I want to ask them how they can behave with us like this.
People are afraid to speak up!
I have attended many highly important meetings with WBFI’s President. She is often times disinterested in any meetings and discussions related to disability rights advocacy. She is clear in saying everyone should help wheelchair athletes. But let me ask you this, with the basic problems we face in India, what would you prefer ? Sport to help advance the rights advocacy or for sports to burden the system even more?
We don’t have leadership training ma’m!
Wheelchair quality is really poor!
There is so much to learn ma’m but we can’t keep following such drastic shifts in focus all the time. No plan nothing. Randomly events begin to be announced and we are expected to participate whether it makes sense to us or not.
Attenders are strictly not allowed Padmini. I am telling you, the place where they put us up in the recent training was so bad that I couldn’t even open my mouth to brush my teeth in that bathroom. We opened the taps and the water had dead insects coming out of it. Accessibility tho bhool jao! (Forget accessibility!)
The work ethic of Brad and Thomas was impeccable. Unquestionably the best people we could have met to get a hang of the reality surrounding us with regards to fitness or game strategies. But I felt they were very much grounded in reality that our grass-root level issues are way huge than they appear to be. So they were like, “Yeah, we understand but we can only do this. So we coach and go. You all have to figure it out.”
We don’t have a structure for the sport
We did not put a structure in place and I wonder why wouldn’t someone do it?
‘You need to look beyond the barriers’ is a common phrase we hear from WBFI. How ridiculous is that? I don’t know Padmini. If we are not eliminating barriers how is wheelchair basketball even helping empower us. I literally have educated myself from Google searches and isn’t sports a tool for improving conditions?
Player dropout rate is high among women than men. And it is not surprising because there is no clarity on what will happen next. Getting out of the house is huge for these women! And add uncertainty to it – it is adding an another barrier to their lives.
It was great to step out of the country and see where we stand internationally. It is embarrassing but also funny that consistently at both the international events, every foreigner I spoke with said, “You are at least 10-15 years behind in this sport.”