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CK Vineeth turns into real-life hero, joins Kerala COVID-19 helpline

CK Vineeth at the Gram Panchayat Centre
CK Vineeth at the Gram Panchayat Centre

If football fanaticism is a yardstick for the popularity of the beautiful game in the country, Kerala is arguably at the top of India's footballing hierarchy. However, like most places in the world, the state has been recently derailed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, leaving little to no chance for any sort of football to take place.

Specifically, the district of Kannur is the second most affected within the geographical boundary with as many as 70 confirmed cases. Despite being lauded for relatively flattening the curve, Kerala is coming to grips with the grim reality of living with the virus. Helping the state ease the transition process is former Kerala Blasters and India international, CK Vineeth.

The Jamshedpur FC striker has volunteered to work at an emergency helpline call centre in the Mangattidum district Panchayat. He works from 10 - 5 answering calls regarding queries about groceries and other various essential commodities. The gram panchayat has associated itself with various grocery shops in the region, in order to provide door-step grocery delivery during the lockdown.

Speaking to Sportskeeda he said, "This is an initiative from the Kerala Sports Council, and the moment I head it, I just couldn't say no. We are around five people here and we get close to 300 calls every day about groceries and where to send them. A lot of them don't have money to pay so they take it on credit with the promise to pay back on time. Apart from groceries, I also get enquiries about medicines and sometimes we also provide information about the spread of the virus, that is most important, actually."

Gram Panchayats across Kerala have requested famous politicians, actors and sportspersons to join the helpline.

Vineeth added, "We need to fight this as one, that's what football teaches you. You need to give it your all but not for yourself but for the team. That's what I'm doing, we need to overcome this virus, so that people are safe."

The 31 year old is also volunteering at the Kannur district hospital, providing food packets to people who are in the isolation wards. The days he visits the hospitals, Vineeth makes sure to sanitise himself properly before entering the house.

He added, "We have five phone numbers, and we all use one each, I have been here since March 28, and will continue till whichever date required. I inform the delivery agents myself about where things need to be delivered. I think in total I handle about 40-50 calls a day."

The helpline advertised on TV also mentions the presence of celebrities like Vineeth behind the phone, urging people to get their groceries home delivered.

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Edited by Suromitro Basu
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