Kashmir’s ‘Special’ Cricketer Set To Make International Debut

By Firdous Parray

ANANTNAG: Feroz Ahmad Ganie, 30, a resident of Panjpora, Sangam (Bijbehara) of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district has been selected for the Indian Disabled Cricket Team (IDCT) for the upcoming International series against Bangladesh.

Ganie was picked by the selectors after his outstanding performances in the recently concluded ‘4- days probable cricket selection camp’ at Hyderabad, organized by Board of Disabled Cricket Association (BDCA).

“I was called by IDCT for trails that were held in Hyderabad from August 4 to August 8 and I performed well in that, and later when the team was announced, I was in the list,” said the jubilant Ganie.

Ganie was interested in sports since childhood especially in cricket. He used to spend most of his days in the cricket field with his friends and peers.

But in 2014, something unfortunate happened to Ganie: he met an accident while travelling in his car. Fortunately, he survived the accident but his right foot was left seriously injured. After multiple surgeries he was able to walk again but with a limp.

For that moment Ganie, a special-abled man now, thought his world, his desires and his aims were over. But destiny had other plans for Ganie!

“I was bedridden at home for almost two years. I lost all hope to play cricket again,” said Ganie. But with the support of his family and friends, he was again able to stand up and play cricket.

This accident was a turning point in his career and he calls it a blessing in disguise.

“Should I call it my misfortune or a blessing, this accident gave me an opportunity to play in the J&K’s disabled cricket team,” said Ganie.

It was through the guidance of one of his well-wishers that he came to know about the J&K disabled cricket team, and after getting in touch with them, there was no turning back for Ganie.

It was in 2016, that he represented J&K disabled cricket team in at Jharkhand for the first time, and overwhelmed his opponents with both his bat and ball.

“Team J&K played well and first time reached to semi-final. I played three matches and won two Man of the Match awards,” recalls Ganie.

He was called to Bangalore for IPL trials but was not selected because of his foot injuries. After that, he played many national tournaments.

“By this, I finally understood what my goal was (that is, to play at international level),” he said.

He started playing cricket from his home ground and then Kashmir Sports Bijbehara (KSB) selected him in their team. Ganie says that he got all the support from family, friends and teammates, and that he had to work hard in order to reach here.

“In Kashmir, there are not separate tournaments or leagues for disabled cricketers. So, I used to only play in normal cricket tournaments at district and club level,” he said.

In the Kashmir-based leagues, he played through KSB in South Kashmir and United International Sports (UIS) in North Kashmir.

Ganie gives credit for his success to his sponsors UIS and KSB.

“I did not get any support from sports association and I used to play outside the state at my own expenses. But yes, my sponsors supported me right from the beginning and are supporting me even today,” he said.

Ganie wants the government to provide platforms and organize cricket leagues for disabled cricketers. “We would produce many good cricketers who can play at a bigger level,” he said.

“Always stay mentally fit and don’t think we are weak,” suggests Ganie for the disabled sports-persons.

“For you will not be able to do anything if you are mentally disabled,” he said.

Alongside Ganie another specially-abled cricketer, Nayeem Ahmad Malla, a resident of Aarath village of Budgam district and a shawl seller by profession, was selected for Indian Cricket team to play in the International series against Bangladesh.

The series is scheduled to be held from September 12.

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