The Optimist Citizen
Insha Bashir : Kashmir's First Wheelchair Basketballer

Story of Inshah Bashir : Kashmir’s first female wheelchair basketball player

Getting bound to a wheelchair after a tragic accident could spiral anyone’s life downward. But not of Inshah Bashir. The gritty girl from Kashmir went on to become the first wheelchair basketball player from the state. Her life journey is nothing short of inspiration. 

Kashmir’s first female wheelchair basketball player

Early Childhood

Inshah Bashir was born in the Budgam District of Beerwah in Kashmir. Growing up, she loved studying and playing cricket with her siblings. Life was good, glowing with a renewed mirth. But, fate had other plans for her. When she was 15, she met with a gruesome accident – a foul play of fate. She had already been diagnosed with gastric ulcers and suffered oral bleeding.

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Feeling light-headed and weak from the same, she came back home and went to her house’s balcony, feeling nauseous and dizzy. Vomiting blood, she lost her balance and fell from the balcony, resulting in a severe spinal injury. She underwent spinal cord surgery, but it didn’t bore any fruit. She was unable to walk and a lack of professional medical help and service at the time tied her to a wheelchair permanently. 

The Sudden Change

The traumatic event had a profound impact on Inshah. The girl who would wildly roam around, playing cricket and volleyball all day, was immobile. Constant rebuttals from relatives made her journey worse. She was dependent on the family – both physically and financially. One of her relatives even went to the extent of telling her that she should have died in the accident. Every door of hope seemed shut for her as she spent eight years of her life bedridden, enclosed in her room.

But, her spirit didn’t diminish. For Inshah the biggest challenge was to accept that she is wheelchair-bound now, has lost mobility, was hanging with a sliver of hope and yet had to reinvent herself. And the reinvention came in full as her enthusiasm for the sport came back.

Overcoming the Setback

During her rehabilitation, at the Shafqat Rehabilitation Center in the valley, she met many with a fate as her – or worse – who were utilizing sports like Basketball to redeem what fate had taken away from them – the chance to feel alive again. The chance to move and play. Insha describes it as a life-changing moment because playing games made her life busy and also helped her in maintaining her mental and physical state up to a certain extent. 

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And since then, the sport of Basketball has been with her, every turn of the hour. The Kashmiri sportsperson stated that once she’d overcome initial hesitation, she found the game to be enjoyable, and convenient and suitable to partake in, from a wheelchair. She found the game very interesting and was pushed by the enthusiasm of representing her state Jammu & Kashmir, as a consequence of which, she motivated and inspired others in the valley to overcome their inhibitions and impediments and take up sporting pursuits.

The journey to success for Inshah Bashir

She says “It is my path which motivates me to prove my potential to the world. Basketball as a sport has a huge role in making me strong”. But her challenges were not limited to her. Along with her disability, Inshah had to stand strong in a game that was mostly dominated by men. Moreover, the lack of sports facilities for the specially-abled in the region and lack of support and incentives has come as appalling. But she came out on top, to become the first female wheelchair basketball player from Kashmir. Inshah Bashir even got an invitation from U.S. Consulate to participate in the prestigious Sports Visitor Program in 2019 and is also a member of the Rest Of India Women’s basketball team.

Insha Bashir
Insha Bashir giving a talk about her life and sharing her insights to overcoming life-changing hurdles

Bigger Plans

Presently, Inshah’s core passion is to excel in this game. She aspires to become a captain of her basketball team. Moreover, she wants to become a ray of hope for those who have accepted their disability as their destiny. Her story poses strong evidence for this resolve. Inshah’s story might have started ordinarily, but her willpower has brought out the extraordinaire in it. Let it become a renewed moral for all – disabled and abled alike. We realise that disability is not just physical, it often resorts to a state of mind too.

“My wheels are my wings,” says Inshah Bashir when asked about her continuous source of motivation. It fuels her purpose in life even after facing deterrents and shortcomings. This is where her attachment of willpower to a sport plays out beautifully. Inshah gives us hope; hope in the fact that life is like a sport. Even if you might have lost the first round, there are plenty more to catch up, fight, and come out on top. All we have to do is play and not bow down.

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