Kolkata: He has been tainted by a doping offence a year ago. However, Odisha FC and India footballer Rana Gharami has now become a hero in his home town. He is lending a helping hand to those struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Rana Gharami, a Odisha FC and India defender is a resident of Garalgacha town in West Bengal’s Hooghly district.
Under the scanner
In April last year, Gharami was handed a provisional suspension by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA). This was after he tested positive for a banned substance. It was the first such case involving an Indian Super League (ISL) footballer. He was with Delhi Dynamos then. The 29-year-old tested positive for prednisone and prednisolone metabolities. Both drugs are banned by NADA.
“It was a horrible past and I suffered a lot of mental turmoil. I don’t want to recall anymore. There was a time when I had stopped taking phone calls,” said Gharami. He made eight starts for Odisha FC in the last ISL season.
Plight of daily wagers
Gharami said was saddened to see the plight of hundreds of poor people, most daily wage labourers. They were losing their livelihood because of the pandemic-forced lockdown.
To help the needy, he contacted his childhood club, Garalgacha Junior Sporting. A relief distribution camp was organised during the first phase of the lockdown.
“I had grown up seeing them and now they were not able to feed themselves. It was painful. They are like my extended family so I was happy to help. It was like living a new life,” informed the footballer.
In the first phase they distributed 150 relief packets but they were not enough. “Many more people started turning up at my doorstep and said they were deprived. This time I got in touch with few of my friends as we prepared another list with 100 families,” Gharami added. It should be stated here that he captained Bengal to a Santosh Trophy triumph in 2017.
They distributed tokens to the needy families. The families were asked to come and collect their packets. Each packet had rice, lentil, oil, vegetables and other essential items like soap and sanitiser.
Feeling of satisfaction
“It was so nice to stand by them and in turn be blessed by them. There’s a deep satisfaction of doing something for the society. We are looking forward to arrange another round of distribution soon,” the former Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting defender said.
Gharami is yet to join a new club for the upcoming season. “Even during my early days of playing, I always reached out to kids and helped them with kits. I’ve gone through the difficult phase personally and I try my best to ensure that the local kids are not affected,” he signed off.