The 25-year-old midfielder is currently stuck in Kolkata, waiting to return home once the lockdown is lifted.

With the nationwide lockdown inching closer to a month, many are struggling to make ends meet and have been forced to look at external sources for help. Michael Soosairaj is one such good Samaritan who has stepped forward to help the people in need.

Soosai won his first Indian Super League title with ATK on March 14, in a final that was held in Goa behind closed doors due to the ongoing pandemic. The player along with the rest of the team returned to Kolkata to celebrate the success. Having concluded the season, most of his teammates, including his brother Michael Regin, left for their respective homes, whereas Soosairaj decided to stay back and explore the City of Joy.

However, the events that followed have extended the midfielder’s stay for over a month, now as the government imposed a lockdown from the 24th of March. Michael Soosairaj, who hails from Eraviputhenthurai in Kanyakumari district, is trying to constantly keep in touch with his family and friends even as they struggle back home.

The Eraviputhenthurai village has remained immune to the pandemic so far, but it’s fishermen community is staring at an uncertain future with tons of fish going to waste every day. As a result, their income is taking a hit and the 25-year-old is desperately trying to help them overcome the crisis.

“I spoke to Fr. Jerome of our St. Catherine Church back home and asked him how I can be of help. Since I am not physically present, I offered money for their needs. Fr. Jerome said they are managing somehow despite shortage of essentials, masks and sanitizers. But, he assured me that he will plan something with me to tide over the crisis,” he said.

The midfielder is putting his rapport with the locals to good use and is encouraging people to stay indoors. “With the fishermen not going to sea, they would play football. But, I try to speak to as many people as possible over phone and make them realize the importance of staying at home,” he said.

The former Jamshedpur FC player had initially planned to return to Chennai on March 23, but cancelled due to a fatality reported in Kolkata on the same day. “I was on my way to the airport to take the 7pm flight, but then it got cancelled. I rescheduled my flight to April 15, but then the lockdown got extended.

“Now, I regret my decision of staying back even when my flatmates Regin and Alexander Romario (who plays for Mohun Bagan) left. During the season, I hardly got time to explore and learn about the culture of Kolkata. So that was why I decided to stay back. In such a crisis, most of the players are with their family. But, I am all alone and miss being at home,” the ATK midfielder said.

Michael Soosairaj who is well known for his creativity and delivery on the pitch has been taking his time off it to serve himself some well cooked meals and maintain his fitness. “Initially, for a few days, I was sleeping and waking up late and my diet was taking a hit. I also put on 3 kgs.”

“But it has been a blessing disguise since Igor Stimac (Indian National Team coach) had asked me to gain weight. However, I have been doing my core and strength training exercises to remain fit. I have been cooking as well and I can now prepare chicken and fish curry, chapatti and a few other items. Cooking is actually a stress buster,” he said.

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