CHENNAI: If the year 2020 has to be described in words, uncertainty would feature prominently. Uncertainty about livelihoods, jobs, economic security and future. Five months deep in a historic crisis, a lot of people are still struggling to make ends meet.
Sportspersons are no exceptions. With pandemic disrupting the calendar, many have been forced to look for an alternative source of income or cut down on their budget to meet the expenses. Closer home, the story is same for S Karthi. The Indian junior men's hockey player has started working part-time in a bakery to keep his family afloat.
Hailing from the Ariyalur district in Tamil Nadu, the 19-year-old was forced to look for a job when his father's income became insufficient to meet family's expenses during the pandemic. His father, who is working as a watchman at a government college, used to earn around Rs 5,000 a month. However, when the nationwide-lockdown was imposed in March, the reduction in work hours led to reduction in income. The forward — the only national camper among all four teams (senior men's, women's, junior men's and women's) from the state — has an elder sister, who is married and a young brother, who just completed class 12 examinations. His mother is a homemaker.
Karthi came back home after the junior men's national camp ended in early March in Bengaluru.
"With time in hand, I decided to work in a bakery to meet our family expenses during the lockdown. It fetches me around Rs 5,000 per month, which is very helpful during these times. I also try to save some money. My job is only part-time and I work from 10 am to 3 pm. Now that grounds are open, I go for training after my work," said Karthi, who is pursuing a bachelor's degree in history.
The family heaved a big sigh of relief when they received financial assistance from Hockey India (HI) a week ago. In a novel initiative to provide basic financial relief for the athletes, the national body identified 61 athletes from across the senior and junior men and women core probables and provided them with Rs 10,000 each. Karthi was among the beneficiaries.
"We are grateful to the federation for assistance. It is very timely. The amount will help us meet our expenses during these tough times," added the forward. With no hockey camps or tournaments scheduled for the junior national team in the near future, the teen might be seen spending more time in the bakery than grounds in the coming months as well.