East Bengal club has turned to disaster management as the COVID-19 pandemic and cyclone Amphan have doused its plans of a grand centenary celebrations. The club announced its decision of “celebrating the centenary by serving people” in a news conference here on Thursday.
It was the first at-the-venue news conference hosted by any sports body or organization in the state in more than three months after the lockdown was imposed to tackle the pandemic.
“Ours is a club that is formed out of the emotions of a diaspora. The club planned its centenary celebration keeping in mind the emotions of its millions of members and supporters. But with the deadly pandemic and the devastating cyclone affecting the life and livelihood of lakhs of people in the state, we have decided to serve the people whose lives have been impacted by the two incidents,” said the general secretary of East Bengal, Kalyan Majumdar.
The club also unveiled masks and hand-sanitisers bearing its logo, a big portion of which will be donated to the state sports department and the municipal corporation of the city for distribution free of cost.
“Our volunteers and members of our fan club have already donated food and essentials to thousands of people since the beginning of the lockdown and after the cyclone ravaged large parts of Sundarbans and its adjoining areas. We are still raising funds through different sources and will continue to help the affected people,” said Debabrata (Nitu) Sarkar, a key functionary of the club.
East Bengal started the centenary celebrations with a grand fashion last year with a host of colourful programmes. It also had planned to organize a friendly with the Premier League giant Manchester United but the match, supposed to be played in July, was called off due to the pandemic.
The club, which is currently in the process of demerger with its investor Quess Corp, is staring at an uncertain future as it hopes to secure a berth in the country's top league – the Indian Super League. West Bengal Sports Minister, Aroop Biswas, was also present at the function where East Bengal announced its humanitarian mission to accomplish the centenary celebrations.
The club is reported to have approached Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to help it find a sponsor to fund its efforts for an ISL berth.
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