The former Indian Football Team captain spoke in brief the ways in which the government can tackle the spread of coronavirus.
Amid these distressing times, many footballers – past and present have stepped up to the plate to make vital contributions to society and do their part in the fight against the pandemic. Former Indian Football Team captain Bhaichung Bhutia is also trying to assist people that are stuck in different states of the country as a result of the lockdown imposed to curb the COVID-19 threat.
“We are trying to help the people stuck in cities like Delhi, Chennai and all other places with ration and essential items. We are using our contacts across the country to reach out to those in distress,” Bhutia spoke to PTI.
“I had set up a helpline and the number belongs to the manager of United Sikkim Football Club’s manager,” he added.
If football does resume around the globe, it is inevitable that the games will be played behind closed doors initially at least to avoid large gatherings as it might compromise the safety of the supporters and risk the spread of the virus. And Bhaichung Bhutia admitted that playing in an empty stadium would prove to be difficult for the players but expressed his support for this mode of resumption.
“When the situation improves a little, it can be started as we all know the reach of television and digital platforms these days. By having all precautions in place, I think this can be tried out,” he said.
“They are working on ways to restart the leagues in Europe without crowds initially. I know it will not be great for the players playing in front of empty stands but television and social media platforms are there as far as the financial aspect is concerned.”
Sikkim remains coronavirus free and Bhaichung Bhutia has revealed a few of the reasons why he thinks that is the case.
“One thing is that the people of Sikkim are law-abiding citizens, they also give a lot of importance to hygiene and health. And then, the timing of the outbreak may have helped. Because it was still winter there were less tourists. If the outbreak had happened in April-May instead of January-February, it may have been different.”
He added, “Just imagine 10 lakh tourists getting stuck in the state. It would have been very difficult then as we also struggle with infrastructure.”
“While it is not a great thing in normal circumstances, in this case at least, the lack of good connectivity to Sikkim may have helped. You can only go to Sikkim by road as there is no rail or air service.”
The 43-year-old has taken an active part in FIFA and Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) campaigns concerning the global pandemic and talked about the positive impact made as a result of the initiatives taken by the icons of the sport.
“Football is a global sport and when you have world icons like (Diego) Maradona, Pele and (David) Beckham involved, it does play a positive role.”
“See, when you talk of football icons they are not just restricted to their own countries, they are known and loved across the world. It is not like a Hollywood actor or a politician,” Bhutia said.
Lastly, Bhaichung Bhutia stressed the importance of maintaining good hygiene and remaining fit. He hopes that it is one of the key lessons people learn from their current predicament.
“Guns and missiles are not going to save us from this virus now. We need good healthcare infrastructure,” he said.
“I would also like to say that why not look for and set up hundreds of grounds and open spaces instead of only focusing on 100-bedded hospitals. A lot many people will probably not be required to go to hospital if the emphasis is on remaining fit. One thing this has taught us is that we must try to remain fit and healthy at all times. Playing sport is the best way to remain fit and it should always be encouraged by everyone,” he concluded.
Interestingly, the Indian footballing great also reportedly helped an 18-year-old woman find a place to stay after she was cruelly thrown out of her rented house by her landlord on suspicion that she might be infected by the coronavirus.