Bengaluru: The Karnataka Swimming Association (KSA) through its fundraiser 'KSA Cares' will provide a three-month financial relief package worth Rs 15 lakh to coaches and pool staff across Karnataka who have been in dire need of monetary support after swimming pools remain shut into its sixth month due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

In August, KSA disbursed Rs 5.50 lakh financial aid to 250 coaches and pool staff across Karnataka. A sum of Rs 10,000, Rs 5,000, Rs 3,000 and Rs 1,500 each per month was contributed to an individual basis his or her designation, performance and take-home salary at the time of lockdown, a press release from KSA said on Thursday (September 17).

Apart from this, the state association also distributed dry ration worth Rs 3,000 each to coaches and pool staff from affiliated centres across the state who are registered with the Karnataka Swimming Association. This relief package will be extended till the month of October.

"With the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) directive to keep the Swimming Pools shut into its sixth consecutive month, Coaches and Pool Staff have been the hardest hit in the swimming community. We took up the onus of supporting them through a substantial 3-month financial aid starting August," stated KSA President Gopal Hosur, who further expressed that the second round of financial aid was dispersed earlier this week.

"I am happy to note that we have deposited the second round of financial aid on 14th September to the coaches and pool staff's accounts. Apart from KSA's own funds, we also received overwhelming support from Infosys Foundation who contributed 400 bags of food items, Premanjali Foundation contributed 300 bags and Kirloskar Systems contributed Rs 3 lakh towards the cause," Hosur added.

Coaches and pool staff from various districts including Mangaluru, Belgaum, Mandya, Davangere, Karwar, Udupi, Shimoga among others have benefited from this initiative. The selection process involved individuals applying for the financial aid through Google Doc shared by KSA with affiliated centres across the state.

"Initially we had about 270 people apply for the financial aid. We selected those who are registered with us and we also extended support to those who frequently volunteered to support KSA during events and competitions. With Rs 10,000 being the highest sum, we created different slabs for the financial aid depending on merit, performance and the monthly salary. We at KSA are very grateful to all the organizations and individuals who extended their support in these challenging times," expressed Satish Kumar, secretary general, KSA.

Sanjo KP, a coach in Davangere, expressed how this financial aid has pulled him out of crisis. "It had come to a point where I would have to take hand loans only to cover the costs of my meals. With pools shut during summer, our income became nil and savings were all spent to survive the lockdown months. We were in dire need of help and KSA announced this relief package at the right time. I have received Rs 5,000 each in August and September. This really helps cover my basic costs and I know I can survive with this until pools restart. The best part is, this is not a one-time bail out but a three-month package. No other state swimming association in the country has taken this kind of initiative and we are very grateful."

"We are extremely thankful to KSA for taking up this initiative. With no pools and no income generated for the last 6 months, the pool/club owners have not been able to pay us salaries. We had to look at different options to make a living. For many of us, it had come down to a point where providing three meals a day for our families had become tough. This financial aid will certainly help us cover all the basics for three months and hopefully the government will allow pools to function soon," stated Nataraj, a coach at Pooja Aquatic in Bengaluru.