Similar to the men’s team, India’s women’s team will also be making their Asia Oceania Championship debut this week in Pattaya, Thailand, as the Wheelchair Basketball Federation in India has worked hard to build and develop their wheelchair basketball programme both on a national level and international level.
Five players will be getting their introduction to international wheelchair basketball at the 2019 Asia Oceania Championships, with the rest of the squad having already tasted it at the Central & East Asia Qualifying Tournament For Asian Para Games.
Head Coach Louis George Meprath explained the team have been training hard in the build-up to the championships:
“We have been preparing well for the Asia Oceania Championships. We conducted a camp for over three weeks in which we gave our players valuable practice sessions on offence and defence, pick-and-roll etc; and we conducted another camp for about a week just before the Asia Oceania Championships.
“The final team selected has a mix of senior players and new players. We do not have any key or star players as such. The playing five are almost all at the same level. All of them will need to raise their game a notch or two higher to perform well at the Asia Oceania Championships.”
Although the overall aim for the team is to qualify for Tokyo 2020, the team are hoping that competing in Thailand will inspire and encourage other women into the sport.
“By competing in the championships, we hope to get valuable international exposure and at the same time raise the standard of game in India so that other women players from all over India are motivated to take up this sport. Women empowerment is the final outcome we hope for.”
India’s captain Kartiki Patel, is relatively new herself to wheelchair basketball but enjoys every aspect of the sport. She explained:
“I have been playing wheelchair basketball for over three years now. Unlike playing individual games like badminton or swimming, playing a team game like wheelchair basketball is entirely a different kettle of fish. Here I like the team spirit, discipline, camaraderie and the collective effort put in by all the team members. We have 12 players. All the 12 players have developed good rapport and we will try our best to do well at the Asia Oceania Championships.”
Looking forward to competing at the championships, she added:
“It is always a great feeling to represent one’s country in an International arena. We look forward to playing the other teams by competing hard. We will give our best and put in extra efforts to achieve our goal. My goal is to perform well and give my best so that our team goal is met. Our goal is to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Games.”
India’s women will have to finish top in Division 2 above Thailand, Cambodia, Iran, and Afghanistan to play in the semi-final line-ups alongside the three teams from Division 1 for a chance to grab one of the two qualifying spots for Tokyo 2020.
|Vest Number||Player Name||Sport Class||Age|
|9||Minakshi Harichandra Jadhav||2||31|
|13||Arati Suresh Pawar||2.5||31|
|18||Jyoti Shivaji Toralakar||4.5||21|
|22||Nisha Kaliprasad Gupta||2||33|
|77||Geeta Pannalal Chouhan||2||32|
|88||Kartiki Jagdishbhai Patel||2.5||36|
Photo courtesy of Wheelchair Basketball Federation of India.