Former India football captain, Baichung Bhutia has come forward to raise money to help victims of earthquake-hit areas of Sikkim through Bollywood actor and former India rugby player Rahul Bose.
Bose's NGO, The Foundation will host a sports memorabilia auction (EQUATION 2012) on February 11 when, as many as 33 prized possessions, will go under the hammer.
Baichung Bhutia unveils Roberto Baggio's signed jersey at a city hotel
yesterday. PIC/Atul Kamble
Bhutia will be donating five items that include former Italian football star Roberto Baggio's jersey, his United Sikkim FC and India jersey that he wore during his farewell encounter against German giants Bayern Munich at New Delhi earlier this month. "The jersey signed by Baggio is very close to my heart. I didn't feel like giving it to anyone, but I have to do it for the people of Sikkim.
"I hope I will be able to give something back to society through this fund-raising event. I also want to improve Sikkim's football infrastructure," said Bhutia.
Bose dwelled on the trouble he had to go through to get gear signed by international stars. "The most difficult item to get was a football signed by Lionel Messi. I tried to get it in Kolkata where Argentina played Venezuela on September 2. There was so much security that I could not clear the cordon. Bhutia and me tried to get through to him in the dressing room as well as his hotel. Baichung then requested the organisers of the match and they finally got Messi to sign the ball in Bangladesh.
"Getting Rafael Nadal's shoes signed was also a big challenge for me, but I am thankful to Mahesh Bhupathi as he requested Nadal to part with the shoes when he met him during the last US Open. When he told Nadal about the foundation, he immediately agreed. The shoes look brand new. I think he might have worn it for only a few hours.
"It was also very difficult to get cricket legend Imran Khan's bat and a ball signed by Sir Richard Hadlee. So, it
was a phenomenal amount of hard work. I hope all this pays off," he concluded.