The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of thousands of sportspersons.
The biggest names in the Indian sports fraternity came together to support the launch of the ‘Play for India’ initiative to help those whose livelihoods have been put at a risk due to suspension of sporting activities owing to the COVID-19 outbreak.
While the pandemic has dealt a blow to sports at large, the impact has been more severe for those working at sports venues and training facilities.
‘Play for India’ aims to bring together India’s sporting community, fans & athletes and channel their efforts into giving back to people belonging to the often invisible support system without whom sports activities would not be possible. These include cleaners, gardeners, coaches, umpires, referees, caddies and other support staff who are not receiving a regular income due to the lack of work.
In the launch video of the initiative, India’s world cup hero Yuvraj Singh emphasized on the important role played by these workers, “The happiness that sports give us is made possible only because of the efforts of many unknown, unrecognized figures who support India’s sporting structures. The ‘Play for India’ initiative aims to provide monetary and non-monetary support to the people who form the very backbone of sports in India.”
Meanwhile, actor Abhishek Bachchan, who also owns teams in the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) and the Indian Super League (ISL), remarked, “Today, these workers need all of our support. So, let’s come together and truly ‘play for India’.”
The growing network behind this initiative includes the likes of Dipa Karmakar, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik; tennis ace Sania Mirza, cricketers like Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Smriti Mandhana, Mayank Aggarwal and some of the most respected organizations in Indian sport.
This movement aims to build a culture of giving back in the Indian sports industry, where athletes, coaches and industry professionals attempt to help their colleagues in different ways. In addition to financial support, ‘Play for India’ also allows people to volunteer time, effort and energy to worthwhile causes within and outside the sports community, such as education, mental health, hygiene etc.
Deepthi Bopaiah, Executive Director, GoSports Foundation said, “The Covid-19 crisis has hugely impacted Indian sport with all activity coming to a halt. Those dependent on sport for their livelihood have been the hardest hit. We hope our initiative will help these people through this tough period. We believe that our collective experience in this space enables us to provide a trustworthy platform for promoting, facilitating, and supporting sporting causes throughout India.”
Indian tennis star Somdev Devvarman remarked, “ ‘Play for India’ is a great example of what can be achieved when we work together. I encourage everyone to participate in their way whether it is through donations, volunteering or by suggesting a worthwhile cause to benefit those in need.”
‘Play For India’ is for everyone who wants to give back to Indian sport. While its immediate objective is to help our less fortunate colleagues through this current crisis, it will continue to work to support the thousands of worthy causes and people working on the frontline of Indian sport.