India women’s kho kho captain gets help after SOS call, others still face hardship
Nasreen Shaikh, who captained India to a gold medal at the South Asian Games, is currently the breadwinner for her large family as her father, a hawker selling steel utensils in weekly bazaars can’t earn anything.Updated: Apr 30, 2020 11:58 IST
Kho kho, a sport native to India, hasn’t even reached the level of Pencak Silat (a martial art form) that has managed to get into Asian Games or, for that matter, Bridge that got a look-in at the 2018 edition of the continental games. At best, it has managed to get into South Asian Games where India women won a gold medal in 2019. It is no surprise then that the sport struggles to get sponsors or any financial support from any quarter, thus leaving the already underprivileged players vulnerable during times such as these where the world has come to a stop due to covid-19 lockdown.
Nasreen Shaikh, who captained India to a gold medal at the South Asian Games, is currently the breadwinner for her large family as her father, a hawker selling steel utensils in weekly bazaars can’t earn anything.
Although still struggling, the BA third year student at Daulat Ram College and a resident of the National Capital’s Pitampura area, has been a bit lucky to get some help. She has a contract with Airports Authority of India, then the federation gave her Rs1 lakh after it learnt of her hardships, a welfare NGO based in old Delhi chipped in by providing Rs50,000 and the general secretary of the Kho Kho federation, MS Tyagi gave her Rs5000.
“We had been struggling. These are uncertain times as my father is off work. My sister was in hospital with serious ailment. The contract (Rs26,000 a month) with AAI is of one year and gets renewed annually. We needed help with at least ration. Thankfully, help arrived. We are good now but there are others who are in even worse shape. Like there is a friend in my neighbourhood who represents Delhi - the team did well at nationals, she is facing hardships,” she says.
The federation says it is doing its bit to help the athletes with whatever they can.
“Almost all the players in kho kho come from very poor background as it is an indigenous sport. The federation too doesn’t have much money. What we have been doing in recent times though is give Rs1000 as scholarship to each of the top 100 players in different categories – senior, junior, sub-junior, says Tyagi, who owns a hospital in Ghaziabad.
“But these are tough times. A sportsperson needs a proper diet. We have around 10,000 players across the country in all categories – national and international level. Most are not in good shape financially. We are trying to do whatever we can. Like whoever lives near a player facing problems has been asked to provide food and ration. We have sounded officials in various states. Like in Maharashtra, the association secretary is doing it. In Tamil Nadu and UP too, players are being helped. But it will be great if our players get help from some quarter,” adds Tyagi.
In Delhi, for example, centres have been set up in Badarpur and Kohat Enclave from where some amount of weekly ration is sent out to the needy players.