Ration that will be distributed in Prayagraj by Northern Football Academy from May 21.(HT Photo)
Ration that will be distributed in Prayagraj by Northern Football Academy from May 21.(HT Photo)

A football academy and cricket body pitches in to help in UP

One is arranging for rations in Prayagraj, the other oxygen cylinders in Kanpur
By Sharad Deep, Lucknow
PUBLISHED ON MAY 14, 2021 08:17 PM IST

“Helping hands are stronger than praying lips”. This Mother Teresa saying has spurred 90-odd footballers and their supporters to help in the time of a pandemic. Hindi film actor Sonu Sood’s reaching out after Covid-19 hit India last year too has been an inspiration.

Led by Northern Football Academy (NFA) director Indraneel Ghosh, these footballers and fans have been working round the clock to ensure a smooth start to their campaign in Prayagraj on May 21.

The initiative has got good response from across India with people sending ration online. Lucknow’s Barun Kumar Ganguli, who works in the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited, was the first to offer his support and transferred money to procure 200 kilograms of flour.

“He (Ganguli Da) just saw our initiative on a social site on May 11 and he called me and took no time to transfer the money in NFA’s account, so that I could procure 200 kg of atta for distribution,” said Ghosh, a former goalkeeper and captain of Allahabad University’s football team.

“When I saw actor Sonu Sood doing so much for the society and the common man, I, too, decided to take up this social initiative. I am surprised that within four days over three dozen people approached us and are contributing funds,” said Ghosh, who is also an AIFF (All India Football Federation) certified coach and NIS (National Institute of Sports) diploma holder.

The NFA’s campaign titled “Lend a Helping Hand” will continue through June. “Only today, I got a call from a family in Meerapur locality here in Allahabad for help. They have been going through a crisis as the head of the family has lost his job of teacher,” said Ghosh, whose academy also has a centre in Una, Himachal Pradesh.

“For the last four-five days, my trainees (around 50) and I are busy in managing the ration kit, which includes rice, daal (pulses), oil, atta (wheat flour), sugar, salt, potato, onion etc. Packing will start soon,” he said.

In the first phase of this initiative, daily wagers, cobblers, labourers and rickshaw drivers who are facing difficulties would be helped. “We will distribute packets every alternate day (because) we would need time to prepare them. I am thankful to the people including a few from Bengaluru, New Delhi and Kolkata for supporting us. Instead of money, some people are sending food grains through different online services,” said Ghosh.

All those helping now and those who would in the future will feature on social media platforms of NFA, said Ghosh. “We have already mentioned the people supporting the cause, along with their pictures, on our social sites. I am sure that list will grow in the coming days. Even the NFA trainees are contributing.”

Besides NFA in Prayagraj, the JNT Organisation in Kanpur, which includes office-bearers of the Kanpur Cricket Association and also members of the UP Cricket Association’s Apex Council, are providing oxygen cylinders in Kanpur.

Known for its cricket tournaments, the organisation, under its Mission Jeevan programme, has provided free oxygen cylinders to the Covid-19 positive patents in the district hospital in Unnao. “We are also supplying oxygen cylinders to people who are in home isolation in Kanpur and anyone can call me on the Mission Jeevan helpline No. 9415405457 for help,” said UPCA’s Apex Council member Ahmed Ali Khan.

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