Hariss Harun and Johor Darul Ta'zim chip in to fight coronavirus
JDT and Lions skipper donates to relief fund, despite taking a 33% pay cut
As captain of the Singapore national football team and Johor Darul Ta'zim, Hariss Harun often rallies his teammates to rise above themselves on the pitch.
But now, the 29-year-old midfielder has found himself calling on a larger collective - society - to come together for a greater cause, in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
JDT issued a statement on Sunday saying that the club's players, coaches and staff will take a 33 per cent pay cut "to help the club and society ease their burden during this testing time".
In addition, a portion of their wages will be donated to the Johor disaster fund.
Hariss, who draws a five-figure monthly salary, said the global outbreak "has been challenging" and urged "more to come forward to make any form of a contribution to help humanity overcome this dark episode".
He told The New Paper: "It is a very good initiative. As a club, we are very concerned about everyone's well-being in these tough times.
"We want to help the frontline workers, the underprivileged and those (who are) struggling, especially in the rural areas... We fully support this move."
JDT's move earned them praise from the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), with its general secretary Stuart Ramalingam saying he hopes other clubs can also come up with solutions to ease their financial burden during such tough periods.
The livelihoods of many in Malaysia have been affected, especially since the nation's movement control order came into effect on March 18.
It will be extended to April 14 in further efforts to stem the spread of Covid-19, which has infected more than 2,700 people and caused at least 43 deaths across the Causeway.
In these trying times, Hariss believes those who are able should reach out to the vulnerable and less fortunate.
This is not the first time JDT - owned by the Crown Prince of Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, have come forward to support the community.
The Southern Tigers had also given financial aid to Brazilian football club Chapecoense, who lost players and staff following a tragic plane crash in 2016, and to flood victims in Penang in 2017.
As a precautionary measure against the global pandemic, the FAM had postponed all competitions until April 30.
Consequently, Hariss returned to Singapore a day after JDT's last match on March 14 - a 1-1 draw with Felda United in the MSL.
He has been mostly cooped up at home, spending time with his family, keeping himself fit and watching Netflix.
Hariss, who has a five-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter, works out two to three times a day, while nursing a knee injury.
"I don't go out much, with the situation the way it is," he said.
"Besides, I have my hands full with my kids and keeping myself fit. There isn't much ball work that I do, as I have a ligament injury in my left knee.
"However, I work out as best as I can, and the rest of the time is taken up by kids mostly and some Netflix."