KARACHI: The global outbreak of COVID-19 has halted sports activities around the world, including Pakistan. Despite the doom and gloom, Pakistani sportsmen are still not sitting idle and doing the best they can to help those in need.
The country is currently under a lock-down by the government to avoid the spread of coronavirus. The lockdown has left many affected and such lock-down affectees are being helped by Pakistani sportsmen, from Karachi to Khyber.
Among them, prominent are Shahid Afridi, Aisam ul Haq, Ruman Raees, Ahmed Shahzad, Azeem Ghumman and Squash player Noorena Shams.
Shahid Afridi leads from the front
Shahid Afridi, the former captain of Pakistan Cricket team, reached Northern areas of Pakistan to help the needy people there under umbrella of his foundation. While Afridi was traveling from one town to another in remote areas of KP, people from his organization were busy in distributing rations at other areas of Pakistan.
“Pakistan has given me a lot, this is the time to return something back to my country,” Afridi said while adding that even despite lockdown someone had to step up and help those who were forced to remain indoors.
The former captain and flamboyant all rounder also launched a campaign #DonateKaroNa on social media which received great response from fellow cricketers, celebrities and media persons.
According to data shared by Afridi’s foundation, rations were distributed among more than 9,000 families in 45 cities of Pakistan during the 19 days drive.
“Alhamdulillah, I am proud of what has been achieved in this short period of time. My prime motivator is humanity, but would be impossible without your support, which is an ongoing need,” Afridi said.
“This is the time to support each other, help each other. One must not do politics in this crisis,” Afridi added.
The Boom Boom star has also offered brand and corporate a free endorsement of products if they provide ration bags to needy people of Pakistan during the lockdown.
Ruman Raees eager to help
All rounder Ruman Raees, the fast bowler of Pakistan cricket team, first planned to help 30 families at his own, but when he went out, he realized that there was need to do more, and since then he has provided ration bags to over 4000 families.
But, the 29 years old says that this process shouldn’t stop. At least not before the lock-down ends and things come back to normal.
“It is not easy for the people these days, specially for the daily wagers who are completely helpless. Ramzans are coming and we need to be more aggressive with our efforts to support all the needy people,” Ruman told Geo.
He has also put his cricket memorabilia on auction to gather more funds for the cause as he now aims to provide Iftar and Sehri food to people during the holy month of Ramzan.
“Whatever the amount I get from the auction, I will use that to purchase ration bags and food for Iftar and Sehri during Ramzan to distribute among the people of Pakistan,” he promised.
Aisam ul Haq’s charity initiative
Pakistan’s Tennis ace Aisam ul Haq feels that being a human-being, a Pakistani and Muslim, it is an obligation to help needy, poor and the less-privilege one.
“I feel blessed and lucky to be in a position where I can help others. We are going thru a tough time for us as country. My charity “stop war, star tennis” – that basically works in war-hit areas to promote tennis – had some funds in it, so I initiated the campaign to deliver ration bags,” Aisam told Geo.tv.
According to Aisam, his organization has distributed ration among 1,200 families and he’s targeting to reach another 1,000 before the Ramzan.
“We have to fight this virus and the only way to do is to help each other out and work together. While our medical staff, security officials, media workers are working on frontline, we have to work as backline, a back bone and have to make sure that we can help and feed every family in Pakistan. I urge people to keep donating towards these noble causes of distributing ration bags so that we can make a hunger free Pakistan,” Aisam said.
“I have received criticism for posting videos, but I do that to motivate others to do some. Also, I want to tell donors where money is going,” he added.
Ahmed Shahzad does his bit
Pakistan’s test cricketer Ahmed Shahzad feels that it is important to help Pakistan’s daily wagers are worst hit in this lockdown and it was important to help all such people. The opening batsman said that he usually does charity silently but this time he had to put photos and videos on social media to inspire other.
“We need to mobilize youth for this time because I think they can play a big part in reaching up to the people in need. Hopefully this shall pass too but till we need to fight this together as nation standing along our government,” Ahmed said.
Ahmad said that it was not important for him to keep the count of ration bags as he is doing things at individual basis with support of a team of volunteers and his brother.
“I am doing my little but for the country who has given me so much which I won’t be able to return till my last breath,” he concluded.
In Dir, Squash player Noorena Shams goes door to door
Seeing people in Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in need, the squash player Noorena Shams decided it wouldn’t be wise to sit idle at home and contacted her friends to support people in the town.
The young athlete from mountains of KP said that she reached out her friends who were running a volunteer organization and with their help she has reached more than 1000 families in Dir, Malakand and Bajur.
“Along with ration, we have also distributed medical supplies to local hospitals there,” she told Geo.tv
“This is a war against unseen and only way to fight this battle is unity. Our efforts has inspired many locals to help each other and I could see many local influential started helping the community,” she highlighted.
Azeem Ghuman reaches families in interior Sindh
Azeem Ghumman, who once led likes of Babar Azam, Ahmed Shahzad, Usman Qadir and Hammad Azam in U19 World Cup, is reaching out families in interior Sindh to support them with ration and medical supplies.
Ghumman told that he first started his work to support groundsmen and other staff and other workers of Hyderabad district but he realized that it wasn’t just enough and there were more people in need.
“With support of my brother in law we started reaching out families in Hyderabad and we reached around 1700 families to distribute ration among them,” said the former U19 captain.
KSF supports families amid lockdown
While the lockdown has affected many daily wagers, it has also affected those who had their bread and butter connected with having sports activities in different sports centers of Karachi. With sports being totally suspended, all such sports-staff are also struggling to meet their needs.
For all such people, Karachi Sports Forum has taken a initiative. Asif Azeem, the chairman of KSF told Geo that a lot of sports person and staff are without work due to COVID19 pandemic and for him, being a sports organizer, it was important to support all such people.
“Till now we have provided rations to 400 sports families at their door steps and we aim to reach another 300 before Ramzan. During the last phase, we will also distribute Eid gifts to all such sports-staff and players who are without regular earning during these times,” he concluded.