When he is not busy with adrenaline-filled attacks, flicks and dribbles on the field, Vinay Walmiki is compassion personified. The national hockey player is the ‘master’ of countless dogs and cats on the streets of Mumbai.
Vinay, the younger brother of international hockey star Yuvraj Walmiki, loves the strays so deeply that he doesn’t mind skipping his meals to feed them near his home at Churchgate and other parts of the city.
The 21-year-old says he has carried along his fondness for the canines, felines, and birds from his childhood days when dogs would often land on his door for food. Since then, he has been feeding them once a day throughout the year.
“No, I have never taken a break. How will I as these creatures depend on me for their meals,” questions Vinay, who is a fitness freak and runs Actor Influencer Founder – @evolve_ind. He is also a brand ambassador for @bodyfirstwellness.
The youngest of the Walmiki siblings says it has been quite difficult to raise funds for his mission over the past few months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, though that hasn’t stopped him from taking care of the animals.
Besides, not everyone shares his love for the voiceless creatures. Many feel his work is a social hazard for society as so many animals gather at one place waiting to be fed.
It is not just cats and dogs, Vinay also keeps an eye on injured birds. He is closely associated with a veterinary unit where he takes wounded winged ones as and when he comes across them.
Timing doesn’t bother Vinay when he steps out of his home with food for the strays. He can be seen feeding them even at 3 am. “There have been times when I have been held up with family engagements, but I make it a point to feed them as they wait for me,” says Vinay for whom the day begins at 5 am when he kicks his bike for his morning hockey practice.
If his mother is unable to cook for the strays due to illness or for any other reason, Vinay says, he takes things into his own hands. “My mother has taught me the basics of cooking, so there will not be a day when food is not cooked for these ‘pets’,” beams the hockey player.
“We should understand that these souls need us and all they ask for is some love which is freely available, and that is what has kept me close to them,” said Vinay when asked what he gets by doing this deed.
An estimated 30 million dogs and five million cattle roam in the streets of the country. Vinay says it’s particularly difficult for them to get food during the pandemic and he is doing his best to help them ride through the crisis that has befallen on the entire world.