Chhetri, Jinghan, Gokulam Kerala lead fundraiser for Dhanarajan

From I-League to the ISL, teams and players have joined hands to lend their support to the late footballer Dhanarajan Radhakrishnan's family.

Dhanarajan died while playing a seven-a-side match for FC Perintalmanna in Perintalmanna, Kerala, after reportedly suffering from cardiac arrest.   -  Twitter

On Sunday in Kozhikode, rivalries will take a back seat as Gokulam Kerala and the Indian football community join hands to lend their support to the late footballer Dhanarajan Radhakrishnan, who passed away last month while playing in Malapuram's Sevens football tournament.

Dhanarajan, 39, had played for Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan SC among other clubs. He died while playing a seven-a-side match for FC Perintalmanna in Perintalmanna, Kerala, after reportedly suffering from cardiac arrest.

The I-League club announced that it will hand over the ticket sales revenue from the home game against Churchill Brothers to his family.

 

The club has extended invitations to Dhanarajan's wife, Archana, and daughter, Shivani, for the game and it expects to hand over a check of Rs. 5 lakh to the family at the EMS Stadium, Kozhikode.

Several Indian players, past and present, have purchased tickets, which will be distributed free of cost to the fans. India and Bengaluru FC skipper Sunil Chhetri has bought 220 tickets which will be shared with academies around the city, while yesteryear star I.M. Vijayan has purchased 250 tickets.

Vijayan, who had a long association with Dhanarajan playing Sevens, is touched by the gesture. "Gokulam and its owner (V.C.) Praveen must be thanked for this. This is the first time a Indian professional club has done something like this," he told Sportstar.

Only upon Dhanarajan's untimely passing did his financial struggle come to light. After his death, Vijayan rang his friends to help organise a couple of benefit matches in Pallakad and Vaniambalam to help ease the burden on the bereaved family.

"Asif Zaheer, Raman Vijayan, Sachin Suresh and NP Pradeep were among the former footballers who came down to play the game. We helped raise over Rs.18 lakh from these games. When we called them to come play, they had no hesitation in coming. He was a good kid that's why so many people came forward," said Vijayan. A third match is also in the pipeline involving Malayalam film stars.

Kerala Blasters defender Sandesh Jhingan, who is currently recovering from an injury, purchased 1000 tickets for the game and has urged the supporters to turn up at the 40,000-seater venue to pick up the passes on mentioning his name.

V. C. Praveen, owner, Gokulam Kerala, said, the decision to donate the gate revenue was a personal decision.

"When I formed the I-League team, then Viva Kerala's coach (T. K.) Chathunni had asked me to take Dhanarajan in the team. But my budget was limited after the bidding process and he was also past his prime heading into retirement. The Sevens players want to play there as well as in the I-League but I wasn't able to facilitate that for him then. I knew that he had some debt. So when the news came, I wanted to do something for him now," says Praveen.

"The support in the last three days among the Indian clubs and players has been brilliant. They have all forgotten the teams. When it comes to issues, we are all one. Everybody has chipped in," he added.

It has been learnt that Indian Super League club Chennaiyin FC and its midfielder Dhanpal Ganesh, Mumbai City FC's Amrinder Singh, Punjab FC co-owner Ranjit Bajaj and East Bengal's Kassim Aidara have also come forward in displaying solidarity with Dhanarajan.

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