With no Badminton event around the world taking place and players being confined to their homes amid the rising Coronavirus threat, India’s chief badminton coach Pullela Gopichand on Friday admitted that coaches and support staff have been among the worse-hit professionals during the COVID-19 forced lockdown. Gopichand revealed that coaches and the rest of the staff are ‘virtually with no income’ for the past three months. Also Read - Punjab Lockdown Extension News: State Bans Public Gatherings of All Kinds

In his bid to help raise funds for academies and sports foundations, Gopichand along with Arjuna award-winning athletes Ashwini Nachappa and Malathi Holla have joined hands with IDBI Federal Life Insurance and NEB Sports to launch a unique run called ‘Run to the Moon’. Also Read - Amitabh Bachchan COVID-19 Latest Update: 26 Staff Members Tested Negative For Coronavirus

“Coaches and sports staff have been hit the most during the lockdown, with virtually no income during the last three months. We hope to raise funds with this initiative to support and sustain the most important link in the sports chain,” Gopichand said. Also Read - Post Nirbhaya Horror, Number of Girls Taking to The Sport Has Drastically Risen: Judo Guru Munawar Anzar

The nationwide lockdown, that was imposed to stem the spread of the coronavirus, started on March 25. Since then, all sporting action was brought to a halt. Though restrictions have been relaxed gradually the coaching community and support staff have had to bear the brunt of the lockdown financially.

The idea behind the run is for participants to collectively cover 3,84,400 kilometres, the distance between the earth and the moon. The run will commence on June 20 and end on July 20 and will see thousands of runners, both professional as well as amateurs, take part across different parts of the country.

“The current pandemic has seriously challenged the livelihood of coaches and sports staff who make sporting events possible at all levels and sow the seeds for creating champions of tomorrow,” MD and CEO of IDBI Federal Life Insurance, Vighnesh Shahane said.

The registration process for the run will continue till June 18. While it is not necessary to run on each of the 30 days, runners have to clock a minimum of 65 kilometres during the one-month period.

Each participant will have to pay a nominal fee of Rs 100 which will be donated to any one of their preferred institutions, including Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy (PGBA), Mathru Foundation or Ashwini’s Sports Foundation (ASF).

(With PTI Inputs)