Gopichand: Coaches, support staff financially hit during lockdown

P. Gopichand and athletes Ashwini Nachappa and Malathi Holla launch ‘Run to the Moon’ to raise funds for badminton academies and sports foundations.

Chief national badminton coach, P. Gopichand.   -  AP

Coaches and support staff have had “virtually no income” for the past three months, ever since the India-wide lockdown was imposed, India’s chief national badminton coach P. Gopichand said on Friday.

The lockdown was imposed on March 25 to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, but with many non-essential activities brought to a halt, many of those who made a living out of sport suffered financially.

In his bid to raise funds for badminton academies and sports foundations, Gopichand and athletes Ashwini Nachappa and Malathi Holla - both of whom as Arjuna awardees - have joined hands with IDBI Federal Life Insurance and NEB Sports to launch a unique run called ‘Run to the Moon’. “Coaches and sports staff have been hit the most during the lockdown, with virtually no income during the last three months. We hope to raise funds with this initiative to support and sustain the most important link in the sports chain,” Gopichand said.

The idea behind the run is for participants to collectively cover 3,84,400 kilometres, the distance between the earth and the moon.

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The run will commence on June 20 and end on July 20 and will see thousands of runners, professionals as well as amateurs, run across different parts of India. “The current pandemic has seriously challenged the livelihood of coaches and sports staff who make sporting events possible at all levels and sow the seeds for creating champions of tomorrow,” Vighnesh Shahane, MD and CEO of IDBI Federal Life Insurance, said.

The registration process for the run will continue till June 18.

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While it is not necessary to run on each of the 30 days, runners have to clock a minimum of 65 kilometres during the one-month period. Each participant will have to pay a nominal fee of ₹100 which will be donated to any one of their preferred institutions, including Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy (PGBA), the Mathru Foundation and Ashwini’s Sports Foundation (ASF).

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