A blood bond in TN that goes beyond 22 yards

The camp was conducted only on Independence Day until 2010. The reception was surprising, to say the least, with the public joining forces to volunteer for the programme.
Young Star Cricket Club has been doing blood donation as a service for 16 years in Sankagiri in Salem District | Express.
Young Star Cricket Club has been doing blood donation as a service for 16 years in Sankagiri in Salem District | Express.

SALEM: It takes the blood and sweat of cricketers while batting on a sticky wicket. For members of the Young Star Cricket Club, it is more blood than sweat. They have been conducting blood donation camps since 2008, intending to end the suffering of those in need of emergency care. The cricket club comprising 120 members has donated as much as 4,200 units of blood, mostly to government hospitals.

A group of people at VN Palayam near Sankagiri came together in 1995 with an idea to develop the talent of rural youth interested in cricket. That’s when they threw a googly on the pitch to inculcate social service into the game.

K Sanmugam, coordinator of the cricket club, said, “There were many young players in the club and hence the name. We try to channel discipline along with teaching sports. There are special coaches for this and it is done free of cost. On August 15, 2008, we organised a camp at VN Palayam Panchayat Union Primary School campus. As many as 66 people donated blood for the first time. And it continues till now.”

The camp was conducted only on Independence Day until 2010. The reception was surprising, to say the least, with the public joining forces to volunteer for the programme. As a result, the initiative spread its wings to Republic Day as well.

“We have donated 4,200 units of blood to the Government Mohan Kumaramangalam Medical College Hospital (GMKMCH) through the camps conducted over the last 16 years. Staff from the hospital’s blood bank have been assisting us. In addition to this, we have donated 180 units of blood to a private hospital in Salem once. We stopped doing so as they do not provide free treatment to the public,” added Sanmugam.

The steady innings was disrupted by a reverse swing. The club started losing wickets due to the financial crunch. According to Sanmugam, it costs up to Rs 40,000 to conduct one blood camp. “This includes advertising expenses to food expenses for the donor. Our members are mostly college students and school students, so we do not bother them. Administrators contribute and some regular volunteers also help. These consist of doctors and government officials, among others. Public appreciation gives us the extra strength to push through,” he added.

J Chandrakumar, the Salem district collector in 2010, had praised the club for their services. He called the members and showered praises on them.“On November 4, 2023, Salem Government Hospital administration awarded our team with a certificate of appreciation. These are encouraging to us. Our club aims to further develop this blood donation service,” Sanmugam further said. The president of the cricket club, S Ramesh, pointed out the spirit of their team members.

He said they are not limited to the district, but tour across the state to help those in need. “A few days ago, six of our club members went to Chennai to donate blood for a judge. We do not discriminate against. We clean ponds and canals, plant saplings and also participate in temple festivals and do our best work for free,” he added.Despite spending a long time at the crease, the determination to pad up the next day is imbibed in the minds of the group. They are currently developing a Kabaddi team to hone the skills of rural youth.

(Edited by Ajay UK)

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