KOZHIKODE: Crowdfunding is catching on within the state’s sports fraternity to meet rising expenses in the quest for excellence.
After long-distance runner O P Jaisha set the ball rolling ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics, chess Grandmaster S L Narayanan and promising sprinter Jisna Mathew - a trainee with the Usha School of Athletics - took the plunge. Following Jisna’s footsteps, more athletes from the P T Usha stable are going the way of crowdfunding to finance their dreams.
With 19 female athletes - five of them internationals - training under the legendary Usha, the academy has decided to try its luck with three more athletes with the help of Bengaluru-based online crowdfunding platform Milaap.
As annual expenses for training come to anywhere between Rs 3.5 lakh to Rs 4 lakh, talented 800-metre runners Jessy Joseph (21), Abitha Mary Manuel (18) and Athulya Udayan (16) are looking to meet a part of their expenses via crowdfunding.
Earlier, the 18-year-old Jisna - a 400-metre specialist - had raised Rs 97,180 with support coming in from 46 persons against a target of Rs 1.5 lakh.
Targeting Rs 1.2 lakh, Jessy has so far received Rs 38,250 from nine supporters. With a similar aim, Abitha has raised Rs 84,236 from 36 supporters and Athulya Rs 33,235 from 11 supporters.
“We are getting support from various corners of society,” Usha told Express.
“But that’s insufficient to meet the daily expenses of an athlete. The government and the corporates will not give money for daily expenses. So, we are trying out crowdfunding. Initially, we raised funds for Jisna to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. That she succeeded in getting Rs 97,180 from 46 supporters has encouraged others, all of whom are performing consistently on the track.”
The Usha School and Milaap signed a memorandum of understanding to raise funds three months ago. The MoU was signed as Milaap recognised the potential of the Usha School athletes, said Sreenivasan, Usha’s husband and the treasurer of the academy.
Seven percent of the total amount raised will go to Milaap as commission, said Usha School administration manager Remya K P.
“The donations go to their account and they give us the money in relation to the needs of a particular athlete,” she said.
Sreenivasan said the academy had decided to collect money through all legal ways possible when they failed to raise the required funds through sponsors.
Crowdfunding is particularly beneficial to youngsters aspiring to make a career out of athletics, coming as they do from financially backward families. For instance, Jessy lost her father in 2009 and her mother has been toiling as a labourer to further the daughter’s dreams.