In the razzmatazz of commercials, we tend to forget that some sportspersons also lend their voice to causes that really need to be addressed. For instance our very own, very special VVS Laxman, who is hardly seen in advertisements, is the ambassador of cricket for the blind in the country. “My belief that the game is much more than brute force gets reinforced when I watch these youngsters play,” he says.
Similarly Viswanathan Anand is the ambassador of Avahan, the Indian chapter of Bill and Mellinda Gates Foundation working to counter HIV/AIDS menace. “My job is to spread awareness about the deadly virus, mobilising NRI support and engaging the corporate heads to support the cause.”
There are sportspersons who are doing humanitarian work outside their country. Steve Waugh helps to raise funds for a colony of child leprosy patients, “Udayan”, in Kolkata. In fact, he is largely responsible for giving the rigid image of an Australian cricketer a humane look. Inspired by Waugh’s famous quote: “If you can’t help people who are in need, it’s not cricket,” Adam Gilchrist is taking his former captain’s message forward. An ambassador of World Vision, Gilchrist is supporting a child from Mumbai slums.
And you don’t always need to join an organised setup to lend a hand. Our Virender Sehwag goes to Najafgarh whenever he is in Delhi in search of future Viru-s. “I want to inculcate in them the feeling that if I can make it without any contacts they can as well.” The results are showing. One of his finds, Pradeep Sangwan, has made an impact on the domestic circuit and IPL.A.K.