IPOH: Former Perak footballer P. Ravindran, who hogged the headlines in the 1990s for his match-fixing scandal, is now doing good by helping the mentally-challenged.
The 53-year-old set up two shelter homes to take care of those afflicted with mental conditions as a form of self-redemption.
Both centres share the same nama – N Gale Care Centre. The one for men is located at Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, while the centre for women is in Kampung Kepayang
“In the men’s home, we have 43 residents while there are 22 women in the Kampung Kepayang centre. My wife and relatives are helping me manage the homes.
“I am happy with what I’m doing right now,” he told The Star.
“We also help rehabilitate drug addicts at these homes,” he said, adding that his first was set up in 2002. “It’s not a challenge. I love taking care of people. Those who are mentally challenged are special.”
Ravindran was one of 100 footballers caught during the match- fixing storm in the 1993-1994 season. The scandal tainted Malaysian football.
He was also banished to Kemaman in Terengganu, a move that proved to be his real downfall as he had nothing else to do.
After returning to Perak in 1998, Ravindran said he initially planned to open a sportswear shop but changed his mind after a meeting with his sister-in-law S. Valarmathi, a nurse who took care of the mentally challenged.
“At the time, I needed a source of income but also wanted to do something for society.
“When my sister-in-law told me that we should open a home for the mentally challenged, I was up for it,” he said.
“I went for some courses at Hospital Bahagia Ulu Kinta and was encouraged by my former team physiotherapist to do something for the mentally challenged,” he added.
Despite still harbouring dreams of becoming a football coach, Ravindran said his focus now was solely on the homes.
“Football will always be my first passion but I think I’ve found a new calling.
“The mentally challenged people need and deserve care and love. I want to be there for them,” he said.
“If you understand them well, they will be good to you.
“Some of the families send them to my homes because they can’t control them but once they are at my place, they seem to be at ease,” he added.
Ravindran also said that he loved sharing his football stories with the residents.