Sonbhadra: Unlike earlier, 23-year-old Chandan Yadav wakes up early in the morning only to pack puffed rice, a measuring scale and other things of use at his shop, instead of his cricket kit.
Chandan is a cricketer with a disability and has played three international and many national cricket matches for the India national blind cricket team in the B3 category. He hails from Shakti Nagar in Sonbhadra district.
The young, visually disabled cricketer said that his family of eight started struggling with their daily needs soon after the lockdown to contain COVID-19 was imposed. “Watching things going out of hand, my father asked me to go and sell vegetables as it would bring in some money for the family,” he said, adding: “I could not begin with the vegetable business because we did not have enough money for it. I then decided to sell puffed rice and grams as it was available at home because my father was already selling it.”
Chandan said that it was very difficult for the family to survive in the initial days of the lockdown because they had no savings and the impromptu lockdown further added to their woes.
“My brother and father were the only breadwinners in the family but they had nothing to do when the lockdown was imposed since the markets were ordered to be closed. We survived for a few days and then things started going south. I was contemplating to do something for the family and then I started selling lai-chana because I was familiar with it and it was there at home, so I did not need money for investment,” he said.
Chandan said he started playing cricket when he was 13, and was selected to play for the Uttar Pradesh team in 2017. “I was selected to play against England in a three match T-20 series in 2018 and on October 2, 2018, I batted against England in Bengaluru. I was paid Rs 3,000 as match fees and I later played against Jammu and Kashmir on October 23, for which I got Rs 500 as match fees,” he said, complaining about the lower match fees being paid to the disabled players.
“All the money that we receive as match fees is spent in travelling and we are also not given or paid for our cricket kits; we have to manage it on our own. If this situation persists, I will not be able to continue with my cricket career,” he said.
NewsClick reached out to the Cricket Association for the Blind in India. Its treasurer, Chandrashekhar K.N. said that the association has helped few players in south India but had no plans to extend their help to Chandan. “I am at my native place right now. I will discuss (the matter) and let you know about it,” was his standard answer for all queries.
In Lucknow, former international powerlifter, 50-year-old Shatrughan Lal, has set up a small vada pav shop in the last week to meet family expenses.
Lal said he learned how to make vada pav on YouTube. Lal was a silver medalist at the senior Asian Championship and was an ad hoc coach with the Uttar Pradesh government. He has not received any money for the last three months. As a former international player, Lal used to get Rs 25,000 per month for 11 months a year, as per government norms.
“Seeing my kids survive without food was very difficult for me, but I decided not to succumb to the situation but fight it instead,” said Lal, who feels a sense of pride in telling people that he has 12 international medals.
Lal’s daughter is pursuing law and his son is studying in Class 9. He was facing difficulty in bearing the expenses of his son’s online education.
Though the Uttar Pradesh Sports Directorate authorities had been promising to help ad hoc coaches, nothing has come of it on the ground. “We are in the process of doing something for them… waiting for a green signal from the top,” said R.P. Singh, Director (Sports), UP.