Football clubs in Kolkata join hands in COVID vaccination drive

Football clubs in Kolkata join hands in COVID vaccination drive
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Kolkata: Three Kolkata clubs -- Southern Samity, Kalighat Milan Sangha FC and Indian Football Association (IFA) -- have joined the fight against COVID-19 by providing free vaccinations for the people here.

India is grappling with a devastating second wave of COVID-19, registering over 3 lakh cases and more than 3500 deaths in the last 10 days. West Bengal alone have reported over 18,431 cases and 117 deaths on Thursday.

"Starting from Thursday, May 6, Southern Samity, along with Kalighat Milan Sangha FC (two clubs that regularly feature in the Calcutta Football League) and the Indian Football Association (IFA), have arranged a vaccination drive in Kolkata," a release said on Friday.

Not only essential medical supplies like beds, oxygen cylinders, ventilators are dwindling, there is also shortage of vaccines in the country.

"We have a clinic near our club office where there were long serpentine queues every day. Many among those who queued were from very poor backgrounds, who would barely be able to put the money together for the vaccinations," Southern Samity secretary Sourav Pal said.

"That really struck us, and we decided to go ahead with the vaccination drive."

"Our initial plan was to provide free vaccinations to people above the age of 45, who were associated with football -- referees, club officials, and other staff. We had arranged the finances accordingly."

Pal said their initial estimate was for around 300-400 people but they received an overwhelming response from the local people and now the club has received over 900 registrations for the vaccine.

"We approached Kalighat Milan Sangha FC and IFA for help with the vaccination drive, and I must really thank them both for stepping up at this time of need," Pal said.

"With pooled resources, we are now looking to provide more vaccinations. We are now looking to vaccinate more than just the people in and around football.