DUBAI // Victoria Leckie is hoping to level the playing field for blue-collar cricketers when they step up to bat with their white-collar opponents in next month's SmartCup tournament.
The long-distance runner from Scotland has started a campaign to collect quality used training shoes for labourers, to be distributed before the tournament.
Leckie got the campaign off to a good start by donating 10 pairs of her shoes.
"Everyone has old trainers sitting at home that do nothing but create clutter and gather dust," said the professional athlete, who is sponsored by Adidas Middle East.
"As a runner myself, I know I'm guilty of this and I know many of the local fitness community are same. Donating them to our hard-working labourers seems like a great solution."
Leckie is working with a local charity, SmartLife, which organises an annual cricket tournament bringing together different segments of society.
"We do a lot of sporting events and getting used shoes and refurbishing them will truly help labourers in such events," said Arun Kumar Krishnan, of SmartLife.
"The teams are made up of 50 per cent blue-collar workers and 50 per cent white-collars workers.
"The idea is to get them on the same team and playing in the name of the game."
Thurairajavel Raju, a supervisor of a housekeeping services company in Jebel Ali Free Zone, said playing SmartLife cricket matches helped to introduce him to managers who encouraged him to learn new skills.
"There are different people in the team: managers and workers," he said. "There is no difference between us. They are educated people, we are not. Everyone has fun."
Leckie hopes the trainers will also make a difference beyond the tournament by helping to ease the strain of manual labour.
"Every step you take loads three times your body weight on to a hard surface," she said. "That means you really put a lot of strain on your body."
Leckie and Mr Krishnan said all sizes of trainers were needed but they should be in reasonably good condition.
Donations can be made at office 449 (Fortune Promoseven office) on the fourth floor of Emarat Atrium on Sheikh Zayed Road between 9am and 6pm, Sunday to Thursday.
For collection enquiries, call Arun on (050) 4576873.
* With additional reporting by Ramola Talwar Badam