Like any other young Pakistani boy, Altaf grew up on the streets of Pakistan playing cricket. “I received many awards during my childhood. I grew up watching Wasim Akram and I wanted to be a pace bowler just like him.”
However Altaf’s life took a major turn when he was twenty-five. “I went out to collect something, and as I did three guys turned up on a motorbike demanding I hand over my cell-phone. I resisted and was shot in my leg.”
This mishap however did not alter Altaf’s passion for cricket “whatever happened, happened with Allah’s will. It was simply just part of life.” With this positive attitude, and the help and support of his family, Altaf started to play cricket once again, with an artificial right leg.
“I joined a cricket club, and a local coach was so impressed with me he recommended me to play under the PDCA.”(Pakistan Disabled Cricket Association). The PDCA is an official body recognised by the Pakistan Cricket Board, which is formed to specifically aid the development of disabled cricketers in Pakistan.
After playing six tournaments under the PDCA, Altaf was selected for the Pakistani national disabled team to take on England in Dubai. “I cannot describe the feeling. It was an honour for me to called up to represent my nation and I am thankful to Allah for blessing me with this great opportunity.”
Although Altaf’s performances on the tour didn’t go to plan, he still recognises the tour as “life changing.” Touring the UAE, Altaf was exposed to international standard facilities for the first time “I was mesmerised with the bowling machine, and how it helped developed my batting. I had never seen anything like this before. I was deeply impressed.”
On his return to Pakistan, Altaf searched around for a low cost bowling machine. “No where could I find a cost effective bowling machine. The cost of the machines are very high and have to be imported from elsewhere.”
After months of searching, Altaf finally decided to take matters into his own hands, and with his cricketing knowledge and experience; he managed to build his own bowling machine. “Once again Allah has fulfilled my wishes. The bowling machine is like any other high-end machine, with full control of swing and spin. I have worked very hard for this, and finally my dream has come true.”
“I have decided to name the machine ‘Speedster’ as it reminds me of my young days as a pace bowler”. After building the bowling machine, the interest grew immensely in Altaf’s hometown of Jhang, a district in Punjab. “When people came to realise what it is I have actually built, the demand for the machines increased, and since I have made and sold over twenty-five machines”.
With this money, and Altaf’s life savings. He has managed to build his own cricket academy. The ‘Speedster Cricket Academy’. “It is only a small project, however I want to give back to the youth of Pakistan. I love cricket and I want to help develop cricketers and allow them to use international facilities such as a bowling machine”.
This is a story of inspiration and proof of the theory that hard work eventually pays off. “I just want people to keep working hard, and never give up. You only have one chance in this life, so make it count. Everything I am is because of Allah, and I thank him for allowing me to avail this great opportunity. I may not be able to bowl fast again, but I have this machine, which reminds me of the great times. I am a speedster at heart.”