Gokulam Kerala, Sunil Chhetri, IM Vijayan join hands to help late footballer's family

Dhanarajan Radhakrishnan, once of Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, died in December 2019 after collapsing during a sevens match in Kerala. AIFF

On Sunday, Gokulam Kerala host Churchill Brothers in a crucial I-League game.

This game, though, means more. Gokulam will be donating the revenue from ticket sales to the family of the late footballer Dhanarajan Radhakrishnan. On December 29, 2019, Dhanarajan, once of Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, and Viva Kerala, had collapsed while playing a sevens match in Perinthalmana in his home state of Kerala. He died of a cardiac arrest before reaching the hospital.

Gokulam have invited Dhanarajan's wife, Archana, and daughter, Sivani, to the match and plan to hand over a cheque that the club hopes will be for at least Rs. 5 Lakhs.

In a show of solidarity, the Indian football fraternity has come together to show their support for Dhanarajan and his family. Gokulam have confirmed that India captain Sunil Chhetri has brought 220 tickets for the game, while Kerala Blasters defender Sandesh Jhingan has bought 1000 tickets amounting to Rs. 50,000. ISL club Chennaiyin have also chipped in with a purchase of another 100 tickets.

One of the first to pledge his support was IM Vijayan. Speaking to ESPN, the former India international confirmed that he had bought 250 tickets as soon as he heard of what the club was planning to do. "I was close to Dhanarajan, we used to play sevens together regularly," he says. "He was a younger brother to me.

"A few us had gotten together and organized some matches in Palakkad and Malappuram, and the funds raised were deposited in the name of his daughter," he added before lauding the I-league club for their initiative.

"This can happen to anyone -- any sportsperson, not just footballers. While some may make some money, others may not. If the associations and federations could do something in those cases, it would be good. But Gokulam is a vazhikatti [one who shows the way]. This is the first time that an I-league team, a professional team is doing something like this."

The match, to be held at Kozhikode's EMS Corporation stadium is scheduled to kick off at 7 PM on Sunday evening.