Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar’s ‘The CHAMPS Foundation’, a more than two-decade-old organisation which helps sports personalities in financial distress, has come to the aid of ailing hockey Olympian Mohinder Pal Singh.
Singh has been suffering from a kidney ailment and the 58-year-old is on dialysis waiting for a donor for transplant. He was recently also provided financial assistance by the sports ministry.
“I had been reading in the media about the hard times that our earlier Olympians and (international) medallists were facing in their later years,” Gavaskar told PTI.
“The information about Shri MP Singh’s health also came about thanks to the print media,” Gavaskar said.
MP Singh was an integral part of the Indian hockey team that took part in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and played alongside the likes of Mohammed Shahid, MM Somaya, Jude Felix, Pargat Singh to name a few.
Gavaskar spoke about how the idea of The CHAMPS Foundation (Caring, Helping, Assisting, Motivating, Promoting Sportspersons) came up. It was set up in 1999 and has Gundappa Vishwanath among its trustees.
For the iconic former India captain, the primary reason behind setting up the foundation was that there wasn’t any specific organisation that helped former athletes who gave their all for the nation and subsequently fell on hard times.
“Since there are many Foundations for Education, Health, Child and Senior citizens and such but none for former international sportspersons, I thought of setting up a Foundation with a personal contribution,” Gavaskar said.
“We then organised a double wicket tournament with the members of the 1983 World Cup team and it was being partnered by an industrialist or a corporate head with their companies making a donation to the corpus of the fund,” he said.
Till date, ‘The CHAMPS Foundation’ claims to have helped 21 former players with monthly assistance besides taking care of their medical expenses.
“We would like to help more but we get to know about an international who is struggling to make ends meet only when the media does a story. We can be contacted via email on email@example.com or +919967085558 or https://champsindia.org,” the ‘Little Master’ said.
Asked about how the foundation checks the credibility of people seeking financial assistance, Gavaskar said that there are systems in place.
“The Foundation has friends who do the background check after which the decision to assist or not is taken,” he said.