World Cup thrills Kathmandu’s wheelchair-bound (with video)

July 12, 2018 18:15 PM Upendra Lamichhane


Photo: Republica

‘For a moment, we even forget that we don’t have legs!’

KATHMANDU, July 12: Ramesh Chhetri, 20, of Dailekh lost both his legs in the 2015 earthquake. He has been confined to a wheelchair ever since. While in wheelchair, he learnt to play basketball. Last week, however, he was deeply enjoying the live telecast of the world cup with a basketball on his hand.

“Football gives happiness not only to the players but the spectators as well,” he said, adding, “Right now, I am thoroughly enjoying football, forgetting everything.” 

He said that he used to enjoy playing football before losing his legs. “Football can be enjoyed not only by the players but also by the spectators,” he said. “It has filled us with happiness,” he added.

People confined to wheelchairs are no exception to the World Cup fever like everyone else. Differently-abled football fans like him have been gathering together to watch the world cup in Narayantar of Jorpati. The excitement they behold is second to none. Moreover, they don’t have any complaints over their inability to play.

“Football has no fault in us not being able to play,” Nawaraj Karki said, adding, “That’s why we enjoy it so much. For a moment, we even forget that we don’t have legs!” 

Thirty-eight-year-old Karki lost the ability to move his legs when an accident wounded his spinal cord. He was 19 then.

He said that he has been finding enjoyment in watching football. “There is no difference between us and other spectators in the world,” he said, adding, “Everyone other than the players enjoy watching the game.” He told that 20 to 25 people on wheelchairs watch the world cup daily at Bodhisatwa, an organization based in Narayantar.

Football has delivered happiness also to little children who don’t have legs. Nine-year-old Prem Chhiring Tamang, who lost his left leg in the 2015 earthquake and has been using crutches even since, was standing by the wheelchair of his 11-year-old friend Manish Pun while talking about football. 

Prem, who has been a fan of Ronaldo, said that he finds happiness in watching football. “I also used to play football,” he said, “But now, I just watch it.” Wheelchair-bound Manish expressed his admiration for Messi and Neymar. “I like others [footballers] too,” he said, “I watch as much football as I can.”

Tej Bahadur Magar, 24, who lost both his legs when he was 7, told that even though he was struck by the disability at a young age, his craze for watching football is not new. “Although, I lost my legs, the craze for football has not faded,” he said. “The craze has transformed into a passion for watching the game,” he added.

“Some people question our passion since we cannot play football,” he said, “But football is equally entertaining to watch.” He feels as if he is playing when he sees players play.

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