Coaching the Nepal Army Wheelchair Basketball Team

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Coaching the Nepal Army Wheelchair Basketball Team

Every Sunday I go to a Nepal Army training base near Swayambhunath and coach the Army Wheelchair Basketball team.   Whenever I walk on the base I am a bit discombobulated, i.e. what is an American (especially one who is very anti-military, I mean look at all the “wasted” money, when there are so many people living in poverty throughout the world)  and now-a-days, one on crutches, doing on a Nepal Army base?  At times it is surreal, but this feeling disappears quickly, as I get into my coaching mode.

It’s one thing to coach Persons with Disability to play basketball, which I do on a regular basis, but it’s an entirely different experience to have to walk  through a security gate, guarded by soldiers with guns (although they always smile at me and probably wonder what is this guy doing here again).  On some level I wonder what it is I am doing here every Sunday morning, but I do realize that it is really not about the confines of the Army base.

This is more about the excitement that I feel in teaching and refining skills, although I can’t really play wheelchair basketball.  I’m used to using my entire body to play basketball, but have a hard time sitting in a wheelchair and using only my upper body to pass, shoot and dribble.  I get too tired pushing the wheelchair up and down the court, but yet Himal, Raju, Ram, Tilak, Narayan, Prem, Funey, and all of the other guys that make up this team, do everything that I and/or the other coaches ask no matter how much it hurts.  I’m amazed and inspired by these guys, who can no longer use their lower bodies but are athletes, people of indescribable passion for sports and more importantly life. 

Because it’s really not about basketball; some of the guys do weightlifting or swimming or table tennis or whatever they are enabled to do.  Nor is it just about sports.  No, it’s more about the fact that these guys are active participants in life; most of them have families, lead full lives according to their capabilities, just like my other friends. They haven’t given up, although I would bet that after all of their mishaps they might have thought about this.

Even for me, temporarily on crutches, and with my really poor Nepali, I get through to the guys and them to me and we have a blast and they make me happy just watching. These guys want to succeed in whatever their involvement and they do.   These guys give me another reason for living my life to its fullest.  My hope is that these guys can feel how much they mean to me and how proud I am to watch them practice and play.  These guys and the many other Persons with Disability who are participating in life are my person heroes and they are all winners. 

Position: Lover of Life-Change Agent

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