NEW DELHI: “Giving something back to the sport that has given me so much,” was the idea which led to India’s top paddlers A Sharath Kamal and G Sathiyan teaming up with Olympian Neha Aggarwal to start a charity drive to help 100 beneficiaries associated with the sport of table tennis in the country.
The idea is to give junior players, support staff, coaches, umpires who are struggling to make ends meet a one time grant of Rs 10,000 each. The trio’s plan was to raise Rs 10 lakh and in three days, the response has been overwhelming with Rs 6 lakh already raised.
“The sport is on the rise in our country and it would be a shame to see a junior player forced to leave the sport or a coach to close his academy. Being established players, it is our duty to give back to the game and this was a brilliant initiative which Neha spoke to both of us and we were really enthusiastic about it. So far, we have seen so many current, ex-players as well as sports lovers come together to help and it is heartening to see so many step up during this difficult time,” World No 32 Sathiyan said.
More than 80 people have donated. Sharath feels the scheme is vital considering sport is yet to resume and with the probability of live sports returning also minimal, the table tennis ecosystem as a whole needed this. “This pandemic has affected people from all walks of life including people associated with table tennis.
And we are doing our best to sustain their livelihood through this movement. I’m really grateful to all who pitched in,” Sharath added. The Tamil Nadu duo had initially started helping local coaches in their state when Neha approached them and with the help of GoSports Foundation and colleagues from the sport, they identified the 100 beneficiaries.