Sometimes, it’s too late to make a difference. Like in the case of former footballer Amarjit Singh Bhuttar, who lived and died in depravity.
For some like Bernard Pereira and Shreerang More, hope still springs eternal.
The two played for Orkay Mills and represented Maharashtra in Santosh Trophy. Pereira touched even greater heights. The striker donned India colours in the 1974 Asian Games at Tehran. But the talented trio was left jobless after Orkay Mills closed down in 1997.
Bhuttar’s plight makes for a heart-wrenching tale. The former Orkay winger turned to driving an autorickshaw in 1999 to support his mother, wife and three children. Both his daughters were forced to discontinue their education and take up jobs.
Used to running up and down the flanks on the football pitch, Bhuttar failed to cope with the demanding schedule.
Financial worries and regular visits to the hospital drove him to find solace in drinking.
Jitenderjeet Singh, his son, feels Bhuttar was denied the recognition he deserved.
“My father played for one of the best teams in the country and also represented Maharashtra. But what is the use, he died in 2001 (at age 46) a broken man,” he rued.
Shreerang More is another case of what can go wrong following a successful sporting career. After being rendered jobless, the Orkay forward had to swallow his pride and work as a salesman in a garment store in Thane.
“Working in the shop was better than doing nothing,” he says. The meagre earnings helped him sustain a family comprising his wife and two young sons.
More now works for a private cable operator. The job, which gets him Rs 6,000-7,000 every month, includes collecting local advertisements and cash from subscribers.
Bernard Pereira, though, has seen better times. His wife is employed and this considerably lessened the burden of providing for the family.
But life took a cruel twist after Pereira’s elder son, 14-year-old Keegan, was diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately, his reputation as a national player came handy and well wishers contributed generously towards footing the medical bills “This was possible because of my popularity in the sport,” Pereira says.
After his son passed away, Pereira took to coaching. He earns Rs 7,000 per month from coaching children in a suburban school. “At my age (59), what else can one expect me to be do,” he says.
Pereira admits that a lot of footballers are faced with similar problems. “I don’t even know the fate of most as we are not in touch,” he adds.