While there are several clubs that find and promote talents in various sports, men of short stature are often left out. But 29-year-old K.K. Rashid, a native of Thalassery in Kannur, is on a mission to help dwarfs by forming a team which will represent various games at the national and international levels. He has opened a first-of-its-kind club in Kerala, Little People Sports Club, for dwarfs.
A certified football coach in Malappuram, Mr. Rashid says despite being talented, men of short stature are often unable to enter the sports arena. There are not many opportunities for them in the country, though many from other nations go on to make a mark.
“The decision to start a club (at Thalassery) was made after meeting Akash S. Madhavan, a medal-winner at the Dwarf Olympics and Para-Badminton World Championship,” says Mr. Rashid.
Mr. Rashid then joined hands with him and got in touch with others like Mr. Madhavan from other districts, urging them to join the club. Though they set out the journey with football, Mr. Rashid says the club will incorporate more sports depending on the skill and talents of players joining.
Unlike many other nations, there are no separate events held by private or government authorities for dwarfs in India. This neglect begins from schools, he says.
“Through the club, we will support their cause and bring more into the fold. Besides organising events for them in Kerala, the club will encourage people in other States as well to form similar collectives,” adds Mr. Rashid.
Mr. Madhavan, who stands 4 ft tall, says the attempt has turned quite successful. “Many have shown interest and the camps conducted in Kannur and Malappuram recently saw the participation of more than 15 people,” he says.
Recalling his experience, Mr. Madhavan says that before going to the Olympics and other international events, people did not really believe that he could even play. “However, the attitude changed after I represented the country twice in the Dwarf Olympics and Para-Badminton World Championship held in Japan recently,” he says.
P. Pradeep Kumar, another member of the club from Pathanamthitta who has won several medals in track-and-field games for the State in para games, says dwarfs often have to spend from their own pockets to participate in such events. “I wish to travel abroad to attend international events. However, without financial support, it is not possible,” says Mr. Pradeep Kumar.
He says most people like him are not financially sound. Some make ends meet by selling lottery or doing menial jobs. “If we are treated equally and the government extends us support, we too can bring pride and laurels to the country,” he adds.