Shrugging off a handicap

A video of an amputee playing football in a local tournament in Kerala on Twitter caught the eye of NorthEast United coach Eelco Schattorie, who invited the player to the team’s matches as well as to train with it.

NorthEast’s match-winner Bartholomew Ogbeche gifted Vysakh S. R. the match ball after the ISL honoured him as the Fan of the Match.   -  ISL / Sportzpics

While the Indian Super League went into a mid-season break, it was the skills of a footballer on crutches in Kerala which became the talk on social media.

It all began when a video of an amputee playing football in a local tournament surfaced on Twitter. With just one good leg, Vysakh S. R. swiftly moved around the pitch in a bid to score a goal for his team. While the video went viral, gathering more than 20,000 views, it also caught the eye of the NorthEast United coach Eelco Schattorie.

Moved by Vysakh’s desire, the Dutchman wanted to invite him as the club’s special guest for his side’s home fixture against Chennaiyin FC and provide him with an opportunity to train with the first-team players for a day. He tweeted: “What a fantastic determination and commitment to be part of society and participate. Fantastic!! Respect!!” For the Highlanders, Vysakh turned out to be their lucky charm on the evening as they snapped their four-match winless run thanks to a late winner. And for his part, Vysakh, too, didn’t go home empty handed. At the end of the game, NorthEast’s match-winner Bartholomew Ogbeche gifted him the match ball after the ISL honoured him as the Fan of the Match.

The following day, Vysakh trained with the likes of Ogbeche, Federico Gallego and Rowllin Borges. The players enjoyed his company and were “mesmerised” by his standard of play.

Vysakh’s dream of becoming a footballer dissolved when he lost his right leg in an accident as a 16-year-old kid. Now 24, he works in a pharmacy in Kozhikode and has managed to revive his passion for the game he loves so much.

His love affair with NorthEast is set to continue as he has been invited for the side’s final league match away to the Kerala Blasters on March 1.

Transcending sports and rivalries

Chennaiyin FC has had a terrible season in the fifth edition of the ISL. The defending champion has fumbled at every turn and finds itself rock bottom and out of contention for a playoff spot. But the connection between the fans and the owners remains strong as ever.

Abhishek Bachchan, one of the co-owners of Chennaiyin FC, has donated Rs5 lakh for the treatment of Jaikumar Murugesan, a 24-year-old fan of the Blues with a rare heart disorder.   -  M. Vedhan

 

Jaikumar Murugesan, a 24-year-old fan of the Blues, suffers from pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum (PAIVS) — a rare heart disorder where the flow of blood to the right ventricle is obstructed leading to the underdevelopment of the organ. Unable to afford the treatment costs, he contacted the Supermachans, a Chennaiyin fan club, for help. They set up an online fundraiser and people started pooling in whatever they could to help one of their own. What no one saw coming was Abhishek Bachchan, one of the co-owners of the club, contributing to the fund. He heard about the fan’s condition and donated ₹5 lakh for his treatment. There was no fanfare or press releases to celebrate the Bollywood star’s contribution, which would have gone unnoticed if the fan group had not taken to social media to thank him for his kindness.

Fans of various clubs and the clubs themselves also contributed to the fund. From schoolchildren donating their pocket money to notable journalists helping out a fan in need, Jaikumar has received support from all corners. One of them was Rohit Ramesh, the owner of Chennai City FC — in I-League. Some things transcend sports and rivalries.

By Aashin Prasad & Anirudh Velamuri.