Life is an uphill struggle for 40-year-old disabled cricketer

Disabled cricketer Raju Mujawar struggles to make ends meet after devoting 20 years to the sport

Raju Mujawar, 40 is all set to leave Pune for his cricket match which will take place at Bengaluru. Mujawar, although he has more than 20 years of experience of disabled cricket, seems worried, It is not the cricket match he is worried about, but he is worried about his children, four-and-a-half-year old Fakid, and five-and-a-half-year-old Junaid.

Both Fakid and Junaid are to be admitted to school this academic year, and Mujawar will have to pay Rs 25,000 as their fees. This amount is five times his monthly income, from his job at a warehouse. “I can’t even borrow money from anybody as I am already Rs 1,,00,000 in debt, which my family had taken for the marriage of my sister,” said Mujawar.

“We had a 1000 sq ft plot, which was also sold to meet the marriage expenses,” said Mujawar.

“People say that to get a job, I have to get some reference, but what is the need of reference? I am disabled and I have been there to give many proud moments for the state and national team in disabled cricket. I have already dedicated half of my life to the game. Even if I get a job at this time, I would provide a better future to my family,” said Mujawar.

All the odds seemed stacked against Mujawar. A life of poverty, his family struggling to survive and his own physical disability, as he cannot use his left leg. Mujawar was born with the disability and his left leg is more than two inches shorter and thin in comparison to his right leg. His shoes sizes are also different, his left foot being size 6 and right foot, size 10.

His weight and balance is on his right foot and the left foot only supports my movement. “Born with an 82 per cent disability, I can’t even crush an ant with my left leg, and dragging my left foot to a distance of five millimetres is also impossible,” he said.

Mujawar lives with his wife Ruskar, sons Fakid and Junaid, mother, brother and sister-in-law in a 10 x 15 dilapidated room in Khed Shivapur Wada, at Khed Shivapur. He struggles to maintain his family on an income of just Rs 20,000 a month.

Disabled people in our society face a lot of social stigma. Speaking about his marriage he said, “I married late due to many reasons, like my financial problem, my disability, and not getting a match as most of them rejected me. I suffered a lot of embarrassing moments when my parents were looking for a match for me. People used to say stand up, walk and show what is the amount of disability I am facing during making movements and many more questions,” he said.

Mujawar completed his graduation in commerce form Savitribai Phule Pune University and had taken many odd jobs over 20 years to make ends meet. His deteriorating financial condition has made him more helpless and disabled than his physical disability.

“I had applied for a Job in the disabled sports quota several years back but I didn’t have any offer from them. It makes me feel that playing cricket for 20 years is the biggest mistake I have ever done. If I would have continued a job for 20 years, definitely at this time I would have been earning a good livelihood and could afford better education for my family and children. I want a job only as a disabled sportsman and not as disabled,” he said.

With the support and backing of family in earlier days and his own grit and determination, Mujawar has achieved many milestones in the sport of cricket for disabled. He has been awarded a number of times as the best wicket-keeper in the state, national level tournaments that even and even in a couple of international tournaments.

Raju Mujawar (fourth from left) along with his fellow cricketers from various countries, during an international tournament he was participating in as part of the Indian team

Raju Mujawar (fourth from left) along with his fellow cricketers from various countries, during an international tournament he was participating in as part of the Indian team

Playing cricket in all parts of the country more than a 100 times, he has also represented India in Bangladesh, Thailand playing the sport he loves, cricket. He has played cricket with tennis ball, poly ball and leader ball.

Fan of the Zimbabwean cricketer Dougie Marillier, Mujawar’s passion for cricket has never diminished despite his financial condition. He was the wicket-keeper of Maharashtra Cricket Association for Disabled for more than 13 years, and was also the Vice- captain of the team in 2006.

Talking about the problem of disabled cricketers, he said, “Disabled cricketers struggle a lot for survival. Every time during going for a tournament, I have to think about the expenses which will occur, as most of the tournaments are not sponsored.

During such tournaments, politicians, social workers, media attend the programme. We are there in the news, but finally returning home where the real ground is, where we have to give our best performance,” said Mujawar.

Originally published on The Golden Sparrow