KARACHI: Ramazan is one month when the streets of Karachi become sporting grounds as cricket, football and other games become the talk of town. But what if these games become a means to saving someone's life?
This was the idea behind the one-night games event, Sporting for a cause, organised by the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre (MALC) Youth team, at the Bay View High School. The funds raised from the sports gala will be donated to hospitals run by the MALC to treat leprosy, tuberculosis and other illnesses.
The event kicked off on Saturday evening and continued until the early hours of Sunday, just before it was time for Sehri. Almost 200 young people participated in the six games being played at the event. The exercises included futsal, jujitsu, volleyball, table-tennis, yoga and muay thai. Each player had to pay an upfront registration fee of Rs3,000. All the funds collected through the registration fees will be donated to the MALC. The cost of setting up the sporting equipment and the food stalls were borne by the sponsors of the event.
"I think it was a brilliant idea," remarked Hasnain Zaidi, who was showing off his jujitsu skills. "Street games are quite popular in every neighbourhood in Ramazan. Here, we are playing for a worthy cause."
A volleyball player from Karachi Grammar School, Siham Zafar, was thrilled to be participating. "The MALC Youth team gave us the opportunity to do something good for the less-privileged during the holy month of Ramazan."
While the players could register individually or with teams, the trainers and referees for each game were working voluntarily. A sports coordinator at Bay View college campus, Kevin Nazareth, told The Express Tribune that the school had organised fundraising events with the MALC several times in the past. "All our sports trainers have volunteered our services for this worthy cause," he said.
The participants who had registered individually got the opportunity to learn the basics of yoga, muay thai and jujitsu from expert trainers. The muay thai trainer, M Mushtaq, said that he hoped more people would show up for such events. "We feel a sense of inner peace when we volunteer our services for such events."
The event was the culmination of the efforts of the MALC Fundraising Committee, whose chairperson, Ainee Shehzad, worked tirelessly along with six other committee members to make it a success. "We were expecting around 300 participants,” said Faiza Virani, one of the organisers. "The response was good enough for the first event but we hope to have an even bigger turnout next time."
Apart from the players, there were a large number of spectators who had come to watch and support their loved ones. "Sports inspire one to love," said Anum, who had come to watch her sister play volleyball. "Such events fill our hearts with positivity and the desire to help the less-privileged."
Virani said that all events organised by the MALC are updated on #sportingforacause and on their Facebook page. Volunteers and participants can register on their Facebook page.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2014.