Legendary footballer I M Vijayan on Friday urged the country's youngsters to "get addicted to football, not to drugs".
The former captain, in his message on the occasion of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, said instead of seeking a quick solution through drugs, the youngsters should head to the football ground.
"It helps you maintain a biological clock. You have a healthy appetite, maintain an 8-hour sleep cycle which is important to stay fit. Get addicted to football, not drugs," Vijayan said in a release from All India Football Federation.
"Drugs can never be a solution, rather it's a problem rooted deeper. It destroys the lives of everyone around the addicted person. The after-effects are devastating," said Vijayan who was recently recommended for the Padma Shri by the AIFF.
Former India midfielder Renedy Singh said drugs only push a person "to a black hole of grave crisis" while sports provides "positivity and energy".
"Don't jump into the black hole. Depression, unemployment, poverty, competition in professional life, family tragedy - we have all been hit by something or the other. Under such circumstances people turn to drugs," Renedy said.
"Sports, let alone football, provide you with so much positivity and energy which helps you get over this negativity and obstacle. It helps you getting healthier physically as well as psychologically."
Legendary India woman footballer Bembem Devi also chipped in, saying: "Parents provide pocket money to their wards for food, conveyance but they use them for drugs. Initially, parents stay unaware of it and when they come to know, the kids have already fallen prey to it.
"I have seen youngsters getting spoilt which in the process have ruined the entire family. The effects are devastating. But the silver lining is that many showing their concern and many organisations are coming forward to help who have been affected," she added.