From Mary Kom to Virat Kohli, these 5 sports personalities are giving back to society
When was the last time you did something for society or helped the environment? Because, every gesture, big and small, can make a difference. For example, several celebrated sportsmen and sportswomen of our country are on a mission to drive change through their social initiatives.
Boxing champion Mary Kom partnered with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to ensure schools educate children on the importance of protecting our wildlife and treating animals with respect. Then, cricket superstar and India captain Virat Kohli adopted 15 rescue puppies.
We list five sports personalities who are driving positive social change with the same intensity they deliver in their fields:
Anil Kumble is famous for being a former coach, commentator, and captain of the Indian cricket team. But did you know that the beloved cricketer is often called ‘Jumbo’ by those close to him? Why, you ask? Because of his love for animals!
Kumble is a wildlife conservationist, photographer, and the voice of the Asian elephant. In 2010, he established the Jumbo Fund as part of his Kumble Foundation, which aims to protect our Indian wildlife and their respective habitats. The fund also provides welfare to the forest staff in the form of basic amenities, healthcare, and education, apart from supporting research studies and activities related to the conservation and protection of wildlife.
In fact, in 2009, the Karnataka government acknowledged his dedicated efforts and appointed him the Vice-Chair of the State Board for Wildlife. During his tenure, the wildlife protected area of the State increased from 3.8 percent to over 5.2 percent, making Karnataka the only State to increase its protected area coverage in India.
In a previous interaction with YourStory, Anil Kumble said,
“Even during my tenure as the Vice Chairman of the Karnataka Wildlife Board, the recognition and respect that came as a cricketer certainly helped in driving conservation and protection benefits to the forests. Those wishing to set up an NGO should definitely follow their dreams. With India being such a large country with its fair share of issues, every small step is a wonderful thought. Hence touching lives through a cause one is passionate about must be commended and encouraged.”
Cricketer Anil Kumble
A renowned cricketer all over the world, and extremely talented on the pitch, a lesser-known fact about the captain of the Indian team is his love for animals. Virat even strongly advocates for the cause. This was evident when he visited Charlie’s Animal Rescue Centre in Bangalore (CARE) and adopted 15 rescue dogs.
“Rescued,” Virat Kohli says is his favourite breed.
He takes complete financial responsibility for these dogs, some of which are blind, paraplegic, and chronically ill dogs. The main message he leaves people with is to 'Adopt, Don’t Shop'.
Indian golfer and the younger sister of Bollywood superstar Deepika Padukone, Anisha Padukone is working towards destigmatising mental health in India through the Live, Love, Laugh Foundation (TLLLF).
Founded by Deepika Padukone in 2015, TLLLF is a platform where you can seek help for yourself or a loved one, find comprehensive knowledge about mental health conditions, connect with professionals, and share stories about your experiences to others facing similar conditions to help them know that they are not alone.
Anisha Padukone (right) with sister Deepika Padukone (left)
Cricketing champion Gautam Gambhir might be remembered as one of India’s most loved opening batsmen, and an all-rounder cricketer, but he is equally talented and skilled at other areas of life as well. A member of the Lok Sabha since this year, Gambhir hoped to make a change in society through his political efforts.
He started the Gautam Gambhir Foundation in 2017, which aims to support the children of martyrs who need immediate help and intervention by providing post trauma counselling. The foundation also provides 100 percent funding of education for these children.
Gautam started this foundation when he came across a gut-wrenching article about a Maoist ambush in Chhattisgarh, which killed two CRPF men. Seeing the heartbreaking images of the daughters of these soldiers, Gambhir vowed to do whatever he could to support children of martyrs.
Apart from this, he even works with underprivileged girls and teaches them the importance of nutrition, health, and hygiene, which he feels are essential for any growing child. The former cricketer also motivates children to not quit and continue their education. Additionally, the Gautam Gambhir Foundation aims to curb air pollution in India by planting more trees.
Cricketer Gautam Gambhir
Five-time undisputed world Olympic boxing champion and the winner of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Mary Kom is a complete animal lover at heart. She supports PETA to make sure that no animal gets harmed, and has a right to their environment and natural habitat.
In the past, Mary Kom is known to have written to the education ministers of India in every State and union territory, asking them to include PETA’s Compassionate Citizen humane education programme in their official school curriculum.
The programme aims to teach children to respect animals from an early age, making them kind and responsible citizens, and teaches them to refrain from acts of violence towards animals and human beings alike.
Boxer Mary Kom
“Compassionate Citizen, which is designed primarily for children between eight and 12 years of age, consists of a 28-minute video featuring animal-friendly discussion topics, video footage of animals, cartoons, reproducible worksheets and a helpful teachers guide.The programme is free of charge and has currently been used in over 15,000 private and government schools, reaching over three million students in India,” PETA states.
If they can do it, so can you! Do you know of any such inspiring stories? Tell us more.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)