Goals beyond your reach will always have something to live for...

Minakshi Jadhav, the “shooting star” of the Indian wheelchair basketball team always had the natural ability to play sports. She progressed to the Maharashtra wheelchair team in no time and went on to play for the Indian team. Believing in oneself and practising hard every day is part of her success mantra.

I was brought to Sharan for rehabilitation after suffering from a spinal cord injury in an accident. Despite struggling at first, I received a lot of support that helped me in the future.

Kartiki Patel, the captain of the Indian team saw my predicament and suggested that I play basketball and I was encouraged by Sharan’s social worker Maya Kishore and administrators Naik and Sachin. My travelling expenses, diet and fitness was taken care of.

I used to travel from Vashi to Borivali for practice sessions and take flights for international matches, the expenses of which were covered by others. I received a lot of encouragement while participating in the 2017 Nationals and it grew even more when I was selected in the Indian team. I have gained a lot of respect because of basketball and none of it would have been possible without Sharan.

I had only seen players wear the national jerseys on television. After the accident, I was not aware about the Maharashtra team or the Indian team and could not believe I was selected. When I wore the jerseys for the Maharashtra team, there were a lot of mixed emotions running through my mind.

The first time I saw the Indian jersey, tears rolled down when I saw my name and I kept on looking at it as it was a dream come true. I was extremely happy and sometimes overwhelmed with self-doubt.

I am known as the “Shooting Star” of the team, my coach Digamber Mali is someone who understands a player’s potential. The first time I met him on the ground, he told me to shoot the ball and told me to do a few more tasks like free throws which I did without any initial training. He could see my potential and told me that I could turn into a professional player.

In the 2017 Hyderabad Nationals, Maharashtra team coach Louis George assigned me as the team shooter. The display of strength and power impressed him even though I didn't have the experience.

The duration of a match is 40 minutes as it requires a lot of stamina to run up and down the court with th wheelchair. He taught us certain breathing techniques that should be used while taking a shot from any part of the court and to have self-belief which helps us in the matches.

One of the initial challenges I had to overcome was suffering from a spinal cord issue due to an accident in 2010. The injury left a toll on my mind too but constant support from my family members helped me through it gradually. When I completed my graduation, I realised that I can still work towards my future goals just like anybody else.

A few years later, my father passed away in a car accident which was a difficult phase as I thought about quitting everything until I met Anthony Das Periera. He guided me through the crisis and helped me come back to the sport.

I went on to win gold twice in the nationals and represented the Indian team. In the future I want to focus on athletics and participate in the Paralympics. My goal is to represent India in the short put and discus throw.

I want our team to win a medal at the Paralympics and to achieve this we will face the challenges and obstacles together. Participating in the individual events will be tough but I shall keep trying and hopefully be an example to others.

I want to show that we too can achieve greatness through hard work, no matter the disability. When I win a medal someday, I will be able to think that I have finally achieved my mother’s dream.

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