Virat Kohli, the most popular sports icon in the country currently, has not only helped Indian cricket but is also doing his best to help athletes from other sports achieve the zenith. The Virat Kohli Foundation (VKF), launched by the cricketer way back in 2013 has silently been helping budding athletes and underprivileged children from all walks of life to achieve their dreams and help India become a sporting nation.
The Foundation provides scholarships to players of exceptional talent so that they can go on and chase their sporting dreams. He recently launched the Athlete Development Programme (ADP) in 2017 as well, where he identified young players from various sports and ensured support in terms of coaching, training, fitness, competition and nutrition.
During the Indian Sports Honours in 2017, an awards night that the VKF hosts every year to recognise the hard work of the Indian sporting icons, Kohli had announced the list of players who would be helped by the organisation, with their progress being tracked down by India’s badminton coach Pullela Gopichand.
Who are the athletes who have benefited from the VKF?
Swastika Ghosh, a young table tennis star who has won many junior events and was a part of the side that won the South Asian Table tennis Championships in 2017 was one of the first beneficiaries of the scholarship. Along with her, golfer Aadil Bedi, who had been making strides in the sport and has been taken part in the World Junior Master Golf Championships, badminton player Aaryaman Tandon and swimmer Shivani Kataria, who made an appearance in the 2016 Rio Games, were also given the scholarship.
Since then, Arjun Bhati, who recently won the Indian Golf Union Championship, Rutaparna Panda, the Best Female Player at the All India Senior Ranking Badminton Tournament, table tennis player Manush Shah, golfer Diksha Dagar, boxer Sakshi Choudhary, squash players Yuvraj Wadhwani and Neel Joshi among others have benefited from Kohli’s dedication towards Indians sports.
He has also supported the dreams of tennis player Sumit Nagal, who created waves when he put up a spirited show against Roger Federer in the first round of the US Open this year. Nagal remains indebted to Kohli, and in an interview to TOI had stated how the VKF helped him during his time of need.
“Virat Kohli’s foundation has been supporting me since 2017. I haven’t been performing well for the last two years and was facing a financial crisis. If I didn’t have Virat Kohli supporting me, I don’t know what I would have done.”
“Early this year, when I was flying from Canada to Germany after a tournament, I had six dollars in my wallet… just six dollars after the help that I have been getting, so imagine what a mess I must have been before. But I survived, and things are getting better. If people fund athletes, it will only help the sport flourish in the country. I am fortunate to get that support from Virat,” he added.
Golfer Aadil Bedi, who represented India in the 2018 Asian Games too thanked Kohli and the foundation for helping him realize his dreams in what is an expensive sport.
Kohli’s vision to bring about a transformation coupled with his passionate dream to see India as a sporting powerhouse has enabled youngsters to dream; given them hopes of bringing laurels just like he has.