Sport

Gamechangers on and off the field

While elite athletes in India have been contributing to various relief funds created to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the domestic cricketers have gone out of the way to do their bit for the community.

While Saurashtra veteran Sheldon Jackson has been offering homeless daily-wagers in his hometown Bhavnagar packed food and water every day the last week, a group of Maharashtra cricketers — led by Ranji Trophy regulars Naushad Shaikh and Nikit Dhumal — have started a crowdfunding initiative to take care of the families of groundsmen at the Nehru Stadium in Pune.

According to Jackson, one of the architects of Saurashtra’s maiden Ranji Trophy title last month, the plight of the homeless workers drove him to do something that he refers to as “nothing special”.

Family tradition

“We have a tradition in the family that whenever I do well on the field, we feed stray animals — dogs and cattle — for a few days; so when I came back to Bhavnagar after the final, we were doing the same,” Jackson told The Hindu.

“It’s been an overwhelming experience. Every day, I see many of those with tears in their eyes as they admit they haven’t eaten anything for two or three days. The government is doing the best it can, but in our country, it’s so difficult to reach out to everyone,” Jackson said.

“Most of these people don’t even know anything about the pandemic. All they know is there is some ‘beemaree’ (disease). I am just doing my little bit to offer them a snack and some water or juice.”

Crowdfunding initiative

Meanwhile, a group of cricketers in Pune has been trying to create a corpus for the families of groundsmen at the Nehru Stadium. Even though the stadium is in the heart of the city, it no longer hosts top-flight games.

“Some of us friends were following the migration that followed the lockdown and thought of the groundsmen at the club, most of whom are migrants,” said Shaikh, who captained Maharashtra in the first half of the Ranji Trophy season.

Having devised the title “The Gamechangers Relief Fund” for the initiative, Shaikh and Dhumal have reached out to former and present cricketers through social media.

“We have set a window of one week for ourselves to get donations, starting Sunday. And the response has been unexpected and the support pouring in,” Shaikh said.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2020 11:08:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/sport/article31228964.ece

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