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Fan-aticism at its best!


Dharamveer Pal Singh has not let poverty or even disability come in the way of his favourite pastime – cheering for Team India.
BHARAT MALHOTRA | Issue Dated: June 10, 2012, New Delhi
Tags : cricket fan dharamvir | physically disabled fan |

Dharamveer, resident of Pipra village of Muraina district of Madhya Pradesh was hit by polio when he was merely eight months old. His physical disability however never came in the way of his determination. He refused to confine himself to the wheel chair and practiced movement with his hands. Today, he can scale up the stairs with great speed. His cheerful demeanour belies his physical limitations; he chooses to remind us about the famous gajak of Muraina, instead of guns – also a Muraina specialty.

Now 22 years old, Dharamveer’s passion for cricket grew by the day. It had always been a dream for Dharamveer to watch team India play live in a stadium. Apart from his disability, his father’s finances also made it difficult for that dream to be realised. But things changed one fine day in 2005, one that Dharamveer still revisits with great enthusiasm. He was on his way back to Muraina, but detoured to Delhi and eventually reached the Mohali stadium. He managed to get inside the stadium by dodging the security personnel. That was the first time he saw the players in front of his eyes. The afternoon turned such that the pitch curator, Daljeet Singh, gave him Rs 100 and offered him to stay with other workers at the stadium. And stay he did; so far, Dharamveer has watched 155 ODIs, 59 test matches, 3 seasons of IPL and 35 to 40 T–20 international matches.

Dharamveer is now quite a regular on the circuit. In 2006, when England was touring India, with the help of Daljeet Singh again, he became a ball boy at Nahr Singh Stadium (Faridabad). There, Dharamveer got a chance to chat up Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh. “Bhajji paji ne khush hokar ek hazaar rupaye aur ek t-shirt di (Harbhajan was very happy with me and gave me Rs 1000 and a t-shirt),” he shared. On finding him increasingly familiar, Yuvraj Singh spoke to Preity Zinta about him and soon Dharamveer became the lucky charm of Kings XI Punjab. In 2009, Dharamveer accompanied the team to the IPL in South Africa. He also struck up a rapport with Greg Chappell and is on very good terms with Ness Wadia and Preity Zinta, but his favourite remains Yuvraj Singh. When Yuvraj was undergoing treatment for cancer in America, Dharamveer traveled from Muraina to Vaishno Devi on a cycle for the physically challenged to offer prayers for him. He is also friends with Australian players Shaun Marsh and Adam Gilchrist and mentioned that Sreesanth is his best buddy.

Dharamveer’s travel expenses, match tickets etc. are mostly funded by generous players and friends. “All the players of team India love me. Sometimes they bear the expenses; sometimes friends help me and there are times when I have to manage on my own,” says Dharamveer, who incidentally is captain of the Madhya Pradesh cricket team for the disabled and also a part of the Indian team for the physically challenged.

Dharamveer desires to be the face and official fan of the Indian cricket team, like Abdul Jalil alias Chacha Cricket of Pakistan or Presi Abhishekhara of Sri Lanka. “Chacha Cricket and Presi Abhishekhara’s boarding, lodging and ticket expenses are borne by their respective country boards,” he pointed out. Another fan of cricket, Sudhir Gautam (from Bihar) who is known as Sachin Tendulkar's most dedicated fan, believes that similar initiatives could be taken up, ideally by the BCCI, to help die-hard fans like him and Dharamveer. But those are small matters for the cricket fanatic Dharamveer, who warns, “I will keep cheering for them, no matter what!” Cheers to that!  

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017