Mizoram footballers raise funds for deceased COVID-19 worker via online gaming

Footballers in Mizoram joined online gamers for a virtual shooting match to generate money for a deceased COVID-19 frontline worker in a village bordering Myanmar.

The Mizoram government had closed its international borders following the outbreak of the pandemic. Voluntary groups of villagers along the border have since been camping at strategic points along the international boundary to prevent the movement of people.

Mizoram shares a 510-km border with Myanmar and 318-km border with Bangladesh. A temporarily suspended (due to the pandemic) agreement with Myanmar allows the free movement of border residents of both countries up to 16 km from the boundary line.

One of the volunteers, 18-year-old H. Lalvenmawii from Sangau village in southern Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district, died on June 9 after suffering from a bout of malaria. Sangau is situated near Phawngpui or Blue Mountain, the highest mountain peak in Mizoram.

On June 14, the Mizoram Professional Footballers’ Association (MPFA) teamed up with Mizo PUBG Mobile Gamers and inkhel.com, a sports-related website to organise a PUBG exhibition for generating funds for Lalvenmawii’s family. The match was live-streamed through Facebook and YouTube, clocking more than 100,000 views.

“Instead of shooting the ball with our legs, we took to shooting digital guns with our fingers for a cause. Our members, gamers and viewers donated to raise ₹90,000 that was transferred to the account of a beneficiary through the website,” MPFA vice-president Jeje Lalpekhlua told The Hindu on Wednesday.

One of the country’s top-ranking footballers, Jeje, is a striker in the Indian team. The president of MPFA, formed in 2010, is veteran footballer Malsawmtluanga Shylo, popularly known as Mama.

“The donations are pouring in. We are happy to have contributed our bit through a game most of us are not familiar with,” Jeje said.

The MPFA has some 50 members comprising professional footballers of the 10 best teams that play in various leagues in Mizoram. They have been organising charity football matches periodically to help people in distress.

In May, members of the association got together to distribute food grains and other necessities to villages around State capital Aizawl.

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