Bengaluru: Some of the biggest names in the Indian sports fraternity, including Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh, have come 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 and 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 2011 World Cup hero Yuvraj emphasised on the important role played by these workers, "The happiness that sports gives us is made possible only because of the efforts of many unknown, unrecognised 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."
Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan, who also owns teams in the Pro Kabaddi League and the Indian Super League, added, "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 cricketers Rohit, Yuvraj, Smriti Mandhana and Mayank Agarwal; Olympians Dipa Karmakar, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik; tennis ace Sania Mirza, celebrities Abhishek Bachchan and Sunil Shetty among others.
Somdev Devvarman, ex-Davis Cupper and founder, 'Life Is a Ball' said, "'Play for India' is a great example of what can be achieved when we work together. I encourage everyone to participate in their own way whether it is through donations, volunteering or by suggesting a worthwhile cause to benefit those in need."
Deepthi Bopaiah, Executive Director, GoSports Foundation said, "The COVID-19 crisis has hugely impacted Indian sport with all activities coming to a halt. Those dependent on sport for their livelihood have been the hardest hit. We hope our initiative 'Play for India' 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."