Twenty-four-year-old Inshah Bashir is the first female wheelchair basketball player from Kashmir, India.
After falling 40 feet in home under-construction home in 2008, Bashir lost her ability to walk at the age of 15. After suffering a spinal injury, Bashir underwent surgery, but the procedure was not successful. She spent eight years in her room, falling deeper into depression.
With the help and support of family and friends, she accepted the challenge that life threw her, and pursued one of her passions: basketball.
In 2017, Bashir qualified for the National Championship in Hyderabad. She currently trains in her lightweight wheelchair at a special training camp for specially-abled children. She now looks forward to taking part in the Sports Visitor Program 2019 in the United States.
When Bashir first became interested in playing basketball, there was no team for girls. She was the first among the girls to show interest in the sport. She initially played on the boys’ team, and later, she played at the national level.
She became inspired to play basketball while at the Shafqat Rehabilitation Center after seeing other people like her playing the sport. They asked her to join. After getting the hang of the rules and how to play, Bashir said she felt the sport was fun and convenient to play in a wheelchair.
Bashir’s love for basketball was not surprising, as she loved to play sports before her injury. In school, she played cricket and volleyball at the district level.
She now represents Kashmir and Jammu. Her goal, she says, is to make the sport popular in the valley so that others become interested in the sport and motivated to play the game.
Bashir goes the gym every day, and follows a regular schedule. She also follows a diet created by her coach. The sport keeps her busy, which brings her mental peace.
While she has come a long way, Bashir still faces challenges. Her first and biggest challenge was accepting that she is wheelchair bound. Another major challenge she faced was the lack of infrastructure in her state. Accessible basketball courts, buildings and parks are hard to come by. A lack of a disabled-friendly environment presents challenges.
Bashir says a lack of infrastructure and coaching facilities makes it difficult for India to excel in the world of sports, although the country is not lacking in talent.
Still, Bashir’s core passion is to excel in wheelchair basketball. She hopes to be an inspiration for others who are wheelchair bound.