Sachin Tendulkar believes the Unacademy Road Safety World Series has been an unifying force in spreading the message of road safety. The brand ambassador of the series and Indian Legends’ captain, applauded players from across the world, including India, for turning up for a noble cause and putting up a good show, much to the delight of fans.
“It is fun to be out there in the middle for a cause, and I would like to applaud all six teams, including India. All the players have come here for a cause and they want to go out and give their best. Players are diving around and bowler are trying to bowl fast. We are trying to create an awareness about road safety, which is sometimes taken for granted," he said, ahead of the title clash against Sri Lanka Legends. India Legends will be locking horns with Tillakaratne & Co in the final at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh Stadium in Raipur on Sunday.
There has been a tremendous response to the Unacademy Road Safety World Series be it in Mumbai or Raipur. The ball was set rolling at the Wankhede Stadium last when a full house greeted the India Legends on March 7, 2020. Due to COVID restrictions, the attendance has been reduced to 50 per cent of the stadium capacity in Raipur, but the enthusiasm to watch the Legends play has not dimmed a bit. The fanfare has been a big boost for the players, says Tendulkar.
“We are here for a cause and people are taking notice of what we are looking to do. The reaction has been very good, the crowds have responded brilliantly. I have always said this that when people react this way then it is the best tonic for any athlete. The appreciation transpires into making something special on the field. It has actually happened because a number of legends go out there and play some spectacular cricket. People are enjoying, and it gives all of us an opportunity to relive those moments. Here, I would want to thank the six teams for taking the time out to spread this message, this is important," he said.
The high number of accidents and deaths on Indian roads, was not lost on Tendulkar and he believes the casualties can reduce drastically if road safety measures are undertaken by everybody. “We lose almost 1.35 million people globally every year because of road accidents, out of which 1.5 lakh are from India. It could be because of not wearing a helmet. When we talk about not wearing helmet, it is not just the rider but also the pillion... Statistics show in the 18-35 age group, 50 per cent of lives are lost because of not wearing helmets and not taking precautions," he said.
"The message we are trying to give everyone is when you are riding a scooter/ bike/ two-wheeler, wear a helmet. If there is a pillion travelling with you, make sure that he or she also wears a helmet. If you are driving a car, wear a seat belt, don't jump signals, don't drive on the wrong side of the road."
The cricketing icon used a “piggybank” analogy to explain how they can gain some “blessings” by being patient on the road. "Life is precious! One cannot because of carelessness, put life in danger or someone else's life in danger,” he stressed, adding, “that is why I feel patience is required. When we were small, we would have piggybanks where we would collect our pocket money and save. Similarly, if we show little bit of patience every day and allow elderly people to cross the roads, honk less and do these little things, that is a piggybank of blessings. Every time you are helping visually impaired or elders to cross the road, you are earning blessings, and all you have to do is wait for 5 seconds. These small things can change our mindset. It is really important that we decide to every day fill our piggybank with blessings."
The world’s highest run-getter in Tests and One-Day Internationals, admits it is “a special feeling” to return to the playing field. “It’s a special feeling to be back in the dressing room. Sport unifies everyone, no matter which part of the country you come from, which caste, creed, nothing, your bank balance, sport doesn't recognise anything. It only recognises the way you play.
"It is a fair ground for everyone and we have always believed that when we are there in the dressing room, it is one team, we are together. We have always taken pride in representing the nation, it is a huge honour,” he said.
Players have been battling fitness issues but Tendulkar reveals the joy of playing the game for the noble cause overrides the pain. "It has not been easy. Even before, I got here to participate in the tournament, I hurt my back and that kept me out for about 10 days before I could get back. We have two physios, Vaibhav Daga and Saif. Both have been really helpful because I have had problems (in the past) with my back and knee. The forearms also went into spasm and needed needles to relax them. These things happen, and it is part and parcel of the game. A number of players are having niggles and injuries here and there, but they are happy to be here for a good cause.” (Agencies)