Non-profit organisations Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) and Go Sports Foundation have jointly launched an online pan-India initiative to raise funds to support grassroots hockey which has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Through this “Let’s Stick Together”, initiative the organisations aim to raise Rs 20 lakh by July 15 to help 200 young players, coaches and staff struggling to make a living after sport was stopped to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Each beneficiary will get a one-time grant of Rs 10,000.
Donations can be made on the online platform http://playfor.in, a joint non-profit project of Go Sports Foundation and law firm LawNK and is part of the global #PlayForLives initiative. Donations can be made from Rs 500 and above.
In two days, they have raised funds to support the first 100 beneficiaries and have started disbursing grants, Viren Rasquinha, OGQ’s CEO, said on Tuesday.
While the impact of Covid-19 is widespread, it has been particularly severe on those at the bottom of the pyramid in sport.
‘Let’s Stick Together’ is the brainchild of former India captain Rasquinha who was inspired by a similar initiative by Davis Cupper Somdev Devvarman who has raised funds for tennis ball kids and markers. A conversation with former Mumbai player Conroy Remedios bolstered Rasquinha’s resolve. Remedios is a former colleague who coaches the Bombay Republicans Hockey Club supported by Dronacharya Award winner Murzaban Patel (Bava).
“I was just inquiring with Conroy about how the Bombay Republican boys were doing and he told me that the boys were in very bad shape. Someone’s father is an auto rickshaw driver; someone’s sells fruits outside the Marine Lines station; someone’s father is a barber. All these people have had zero earnings in the last three months and were struggling to put food on the table. That really touched a chord within me and I said, ‘I need to do something for hockey, my sport’, and at the grassroots level,” said Rasquinha.
He mentioned this to Nandan Kamath, founder and managing trustee of Go Sports Foundation, who offered to do it as a joint initiative.
“We decided to support the most vulnerable section. These players are not part of any company, organisation, they are not part of SAI, Khelo India, India camp, nothing. These are young talented, deserving players but at the grassroots level. We are also looking at some coaches at the grassroots level who depend on hockey for survival. We are also looking at groundsmen, but mostly at players. We have set a target of 200 beneficiaries and are trying to ensure that 25%of them are female,” said Rasquinha.
The beneficiaries are being identified with the help of trusted intermediaries including former players. “People like Conroy, who have been associated with the sport for 20-30 years working at the ground level,” said Rasquinha.
“Dilip Tirkey will be helping to identify beneficiaries in Odisha; Mr K Arumugam, who runs One Thousand Hockey Legs, is helping in Delhi; Jude Felix Hockey Academy in Bangalore, Bharat Chikara, my colleague in the India team, in Haryana especially the girls there and Sanggai Chanu in Manipur. If someone is deserving, we will try and help them,” said Rasquinha, who played for Bombay Republicans, Air India and Indian Oil Corporation.