God has a peculiar way of inspiring each and every one of us through one of our own. Our inspiration can come from a nursery story of a Hare and a Tortoise, or a David v/s Goliath story. It could come from a person, like your parent, sibling, teachers, professors, bosses or any random person you meet. It could come from experiences – sometimes as simple as watching the rising sun, walking barefoot on a virgin beach, listening to music, watching movies / sports or in some cases, from our own personal life.
India adores sports. Cricket in particular, but things are changing and that too, for the better. We now have World Class performers in Badminton, Tennis, Chess, Athletics, Boxing, Wrestling et al. India is on the global map and is only destined to improve year on year. Many of the renowned players have had a humble beginning. They went through testing times and eventually overcame all the odds.
One such sportsperson is Mohammad Salih. A Chess fanatic who has played and won at college, university, state and even at South Indian Chess Championship, where he came 2nd. What’s that big a deal, you may ask? It’s a big deal, because he’s blind. That’s right, a person blind from birth plays Chess, a game where you have to be visually and intellectually astute.
He was born in Calicut to a poor family which included a blind father and two blind sisters. He grew up not clearly knowing the benefits of sight. He was later admitted to a residential school for the visually impaired. That was when he was introduced to Chess, among other games. He took to Chess the way a fish takes to water! But fate had a different story for young Salih. He was moved to a different school where his freedom to play was restricted, more so due to extra care given to him by his teachers. During these testing times, he gave equal importance to academics, passed his 10th and later on went on to complete his LLB.
But his passion for Chess remained intact. Anyone who has played Chess knows how important it is “see” what the opponent is trying to do. Imagine closing your eyes and playing it. Very difficult, isn’t it? Also, when Salih works on his strategies, he has to touch the pieces to determine its position and then play. This gives a strategic advantage to the opponent. Another problem he faces is during the practice. While other players can practice using computer opponents and afford coaches, Salih had to practice with humans and had to teach himself through experiences. Despite all this, he went on winning – not only against the visually impaired opponents, but also against players who don’t have the disability. Quite incredible!
He is the only earning member in the family. To make ends meet, he has started taking Chess teaching sessions. He dreams of starting a Chess Academy to develop the next set of champions from India. He also dreams on representing India on the world stage – which involves a lot of money, something he is deprived of.
In one of the interview, he said – “I want to be known as famous chess player and not a ‘blind chess player’. I can play as well as other sighted people. Then why to add ‘blind’ to my name”. It’s very obvious he doesn’t need our sympathy. Disability does not (and should not) disturb our ability to achieve success. Mohammad Salih is one such icon we need to look up to and respect.
A true sporting icon indeed!
Corporates have regularly come in to assist, support and develop simple yet super-human icons live and realize their dream. WillOfSteel.in is one such initiative from JSW. When you visit the website, you are introduced to wonderful human beings who have braved all odds, sacrificed self and family needs, for the betterment of the society at large. These are the people who need our support. Just read their stories, select the best out of them and vote for them. It’s that simple.
I’m voting for Mohammed Salih’s #WillOfSteel and blogging on BlogAdda to help him get felicitated and eventually enabled by JSW.
Who are you voting for?