Suman’s Story: changing attitudes about disability and sport

Stories | June 9, 2020

“When I was at school, I watched other kids get medals and prizes for sport, but because of my disability, I got nothing,” said Suman.

That changed in 2002 when schools in Ranchi decided to mark Disability Day by involving children with disabilities in athletics competitions. Suman came out with a handful of medals for 100 metres sprints, long jump, and long distance running.

“That day changed my mindset. I was good at sport!” he laughed.

After completing his studies, Suman got a job as a middle school teacher, and when the school football team needed a coach, Suman was keen to take on the role.

“None of the other teachers knew anything about football. They thought it was funny that the disabled guy wanted to be the coach, but there was no other option!”

When national coaches visited the area looking to recruit talented students, they were surprised to see a man with a physical disability being the coach of a strong team.

“That started my life in football’’.

Not long afterwards, Suman was offered six-months training to qualify as a National-level referee. He now referees for games across four states.

Seeing someone with a disability in a position like Suman’s changes attitudes about disability. Suman’s experiences inspire younger people with disabilities.

Back in his village, Suman is actively involved in the local DPO. CBM’s partner organisation, CSS, set up many DPOs in the area around Ranchi, as well as 350 self-help groups. CSS has links with the Paralympics Association and the Disabled Sports Authority.

This project, “Poverty Reduction & Community Based Inclusive Development of People with Disabilities in Eastern India”, was supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

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