It’s been barely three days since Joe Higgins landed in India, but he is already in awe of the wheelchair basketball scene in the country.
Although he spoke to us at the end of a tiring day in the office, Higgins was loaded with enthusiasm. He felt the nation has a promising future in front of it in the sport. “The brightest days are ahead. Its potential is just gripping with success. It has many things which it should be doing and it is sharing it with all. There is a National Championship in place and it is bringing in coaches from foreign countries. India is putting in a strategy to have better equipment and facilities too,” said Higgins, who led the Canada women’s team to a gold medal finish at the 1992 Paralympic Games in Barcelona.
Speaking on goals the entire team would like to achieve before the conclusion of the camp on Sunday, he added, “This has three main pillars. We are preparing the team for the Lebanon competition. We are also concentrating on coach development. We have brought coaches from various states and they will work together. We also want the youngsters to love the game. When you love any sport, it will love you back.”
The Indian men’s team will travel to Lebanon to take part in the Hanna Lahoud International WCBB tournament in November. Asked how many years it will take for the country to become a super power in wheelchair basketball, Higgins remarked, “We only have control over what we do. India must focus on improving step by step. You don’t become a world power overnight. It is generational. Canada used to be the best and part of the reason was we had the best set of players and coaches, they all came together at the same time.”
It is only the Canadian’s first visit to India, but he has already developed a close bond with his colleagues, who he refers to as ‘family’. “I am sure it will be a trip of a lifetime. It’s been great fun. We have some military individuals who got injured and have now chosen to play the sport. They are our heroes and those are the ones who should be recognised. All of them who work with me here are part of my family.”