Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Sunday said his department will soon provide financial help to footballer Sangeeta Soren, who received a national call-up last year before the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to work as a daily wage labourer to support her family.
Jharkhand's Sangeeta, who has represented India in U-18 and U-19 tournaments in Bhutan and Thailand before being called for the senior women's team camp, has been working at a brick kiln in Dhanbad's Basamudi village.
The sports minister took note her of her struggle for survival, not long after representing the country.
"I've been informed about footballer Sangeeta Soren, who has represented India in international competitions, and is in a financial crisis in this pandemic. My office has contacted her & financial help will be extended soon. Ensuring a dignified life for athletes is our priority," Rijiju tweeted.
Following in Rijiju's footsteps, the Jharkhand government too came forward to help the athlete.
The chief minister's office said the footballer will be absorbed as a coach/trainer in the future for regular income while announcing an aid of Rs one lakh.
"Cognisance about Sangeeta Soren's condition was taken yesterday. Today morning BDO Baghmara visited her and provided with immediate financial support and ration.
"She will soon be assisted with Rs 1 lakh under the State Sportspersons Welfare Fund to enable her sporting journey," the chief minister's office said.
Sangeeta received the Indian team call-up after impressing in the age-group tournaments but before her dream to play for the senior national side could take flight, the pandemic struck leading to a nationwide lockdown.
"Deputy Commissioner, Dhanbad will undertake work for Day Boarding Football Centre in Dhanbad where Sangeeta will be absorbed as a coach/trainer ensuring regular income and motivation to women players," the CMO said.
"Under the leadership of (Chief Minister) Hemant Soren, the state government is strongly committed to welfare of sportspersons."
Taking note of Sangeeta's struggles, National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma had earlier written to the Jharkhand government, asking it to extend help and support to the international footballer from the state.
A copy of the NCW letter was also been sent to All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel.
Despite the financial constraints, she has not given up on her footballing dream and looks to regularly practice at a neighbouring ground.
Sangeeta's father is visually impaired and her elder brother is struggling to find employment, having also worked in a brick kiln in the past.