Today, schools and colleges in India celebrate Teachers day. On this day, students honour their teachers for their special contributions in the lives of the students or the community as a whole.
So today I will be talking about some of the teachers who helped shape some of the sporting icons of our country. They played a key role in where their student stands and this is my way of tipping my imaginary hat at them and saying “Thank You”, Because if it wasn’t for them we may never have had such inspirational icons to look up to in our lifetime.
Mr. Ramakant Achrekar:
“Who is he?” If that is the first question that struck your mind when you read his name, then you my friend cannot claim to be a cricket fan from India, let alone a Sachin Tendulkar fan. Ramakant Achrekar is renowned for the players he has coached. Some of his famous ones being Ajit Agarkar, Vinod Kambli, Ramesh Powar and the biggest star he ever coached: Sachin Tendulkar. Mr. Achrekar used to coach young cricketers at Shivaji Park, Dadar in Mumbai.
Sachin till date gives credit to Mr. Achrekar for honing his batting skills. When he was young, Tendulkar would practice for hours and hours in the nets. If he became exhausted, Achrekar would put a one rupee coin on the top of the stumps, and the bowler who dismissed Tendulkar would get the coin. If Tendulkar passed the whole session without getting dismissed, the coach would give him the coin. Tendulkar now considers the 13 coins he won then as some of his most prized possessions. Tendulkar still believes that it is this very technique that was instrumental in enhancing his concentration in matches.
Mr. Achrekar was awarded the Droncharya Award in the year, 1990. This was bestowed upon him for his contributions to cricket coaching. He was also conferred with the Padma Shri in 2010, the highest civilian award in the country. Last year in February he was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by then Coach Gary Kirsten, which was a part of Sports Illustrated’s many awards.
There is a Ramakant Achrekar Foundation which helps out deserving players by handing out scholarships. This foundation was formed by the efforts of former Ranji Player Sharad Thakre. Harmeet Singh was the inaugural recipient of the Ramakant Achrekar Scholarship when he was 16. He was part of the Indian Cricket U-19 team which recently won the U-19 World Cup.
Ramakant Achrekar has given a lot to Indian Cricket. None so bigger than Sachin Tendulkar who could possibly have not made it big if it was not for the guidance of Mr. Achrekar. So, thank you Sir. Without you the country would possibly have had no God.
Mrs. Susheela Viswanathan
Behind every successful man there is a woman. This may sound cliched but in this case it holds true. Now, before you keep thinking who Mrs. Susheela is, if her last name was not a big enough clue, she is the mother of Viswanathan Anand, the World Champion of Chess. It was his mother who initiated him into chess and travelled with him to tournaments. Viswanathan Anand once in an interview with Susan Polgar had this to say about how he started to play Chess. The interview was done right after he won his second World Championship in Mexico City. This is the extract from the interview:
SP: How did you get started in chess?
VA: I started when I was six. My mother taught me how to play. In fact, my mother used to do a lot for my chess. We moved to the Philippines shortly afterward. I joined the club in India and we moved to the Philippines for a year. And there they had a TV program that was on in the afternoon, one to two or something like that, when I was in school. So she would write down all the games that they showed and the puzzles, and in the evening we solved them together.
Of course my mother and her family used to play some chess, and she used to play her younger brother, so she had some background in chess, but she never went to a club or anything like that.
So we solved all these puzzles and sent in our answers together. And they gave the prize of a book to the winner. And over the course of many months, I won so many prizes. At one point they just said take all the books you want, but don’t send in anymore entries.
It was due to Mrs. Susheela’s initial hard work and helping her son that today Viswanathan Anand has become a household name, not only in India but worldwide. Thanks to her, India is known outside cricket for having given the world a World Chess Champion as well.
Satpal Sing needs no introduction. He is as famous as a coach as he was as a wrestler back in the 1980′s. Satpal Singh was a bronze medalist in the 1974 Asian Games and a Gold Medalist in the 1982 Asian Games. Today he is known as the coach of two time Olympic medal winner Sushil Kumar. Sushil Kumar, under Satpal Singh’s tutelage, managed to win a Bronze in the 2008 Olympic Games, then going on to bettering that achievement with a Silver in the recently concluded Olympic games in London. In between, he also managed to win the World Championships in 2010. Satpal Singh has been influential in Sushil Kumar’s success having trained Sushil for the last 18years.
Sushil Kumar attributes all of his success to Satpal Singh. Satpal Singh, infact, became his father-in-law last year when Sushil Kumar decided to marry his daughter.
Sushil Kumar was the flag bearer at the London Olympics for the Indian Team. If it was not for Satpal Singh’s guidance, Sushil Kumar may have never scaled such great heights and we hope Satpal Singh now is able to guide him towards what we all hope Sushil achieves: A Gold Medal at the Olympics.
Coach Pullela Gopichand has been a very important person in Saina Nehwal‘s quest to the top in the world of Badminton.
He won the All England Open Badminton Championships in 2001. He became the second Indian to achieve this feat after Prakash Padukone, who won it in 1980. He was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for the year 2001. In 2005, he was awarded the Padma Shri.
Now, he runs the Gopichand Badminton Academy. He is now a very renowned coach who received the Dronacharya Award and is the main force behind the emergence of Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap.
He is known to be one of the most dedicated coaches of the game. Also the fact that he has played the game helps him understand what a player goes through on and off the field. This was also pointed out by Saina Nehwal when in an interview with an Indian Newspaper she said “He knows the emotions we go through and shows us how to come out of that. Since we are playing at the highest level, he knows exactly what our strengths and weaknesses are and where we need to improve” .
Saina Nehwal has a lot to thank Pullela Gopichand for, and she has grown a lot in the time he has been coaching her, since 2003.