Teachers Day 2019: Here’s all you need to know about India’s best sports teachers
5th September is celebrated as the Teachers’ Day in India. It is a day for us to show appreciation for what our teachers do for us throughout the year. And sports is no different. Sports coaches play a very crucial role in an athlete’s life. They groom, guide, motivate, and most importantly, support us in our ups and downs. On this auspicious occasion of the Teachers’ Day, let’s salute these five of the best teachers in Indian sports:
Why 5th September?
Before we get to five best Indian sports coaches, it is important to know why 5th September is celebrated as the Teachers’ Day in India.
India’s second President, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, was one of the brightest minds in comparative religion and philosophy. In fact, before turning to politics, he was one of the most famous professors of philosophy and had an excellent academic career. Radhakrishnan always believed in the fact that “teachers should be the best minds in the country” and played a huge role in helping underprivileged kids get the education they deserve.
In the memory of such an exceptional teacher, 5th September, Radhakrishnan’s birth date is celebrated as the Teachers’ Day in India since 1962.
Probably the best and most successful sports coach India has ever had in any games. A legendary player in his playing days, Pullela Gopichand turned to coaching after his retirement. And that truly changed the fortune of Badminton in India.
Gopichand set up the ‘Gopichand Badminton Academy’ in Hyderabad in 2008. He had to face several difficulties in setting up the academy. The former shuttler had to put his house on a mortgage despite receiving a donation of ₹50 million from a famous industrialist, Nimmagadda Prasad.
But once the academy was established, Gopichand started producing badminton gems. India’s both Olympic medallists in badminton, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu have both graduated from Gopichand’s academy.
The list goes on! Srikanth Kidambi, Parupalli Kashyap, B. Sai Praneeth and many more have been part of the Gopichand academy and are now making a name for themselves on the international circuit. In many ways, Gopichand played a huge role in making India a new powerhouse in the world of badminton. He is the head coach of the Indian badminton team as well.
We have all seen Aamir Khan Pull off a master-class in the movie Dangal, but Mahavir Phogat is the real-life hero here. The Haryana-born wrestler wasn’t the most decorated wrestler in his playing days but what he achieved in coaching was simply exceptional.
In the male-dominated sport a few years ago, Mahavir gave his daughters Geeta and Babita Phogat lessons of wrestling from an early. Geeta Phogat soon turned her father’s efforts in gold as she became the first Indian female wrestler to win the gold medal in wrestling at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Her sister. Babita also won the silver at the same competition in the 51 kg category.
Both sisters followed it with success at World Championship and Asian Games as well. Mahavir also trained his niece Vinesh Phogat. The talented wrestler went on to win two consecutive Gold medals at the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Not only that, Mahavir’s two more students, his third daughter Ritu and niece Priyanka are also making waves in wrestling. Ritu has won Gold at the 2016 Commonwealth Wrestling Championship, and Priyanka has won the silver at the 2016 Asian Wrestling Championship.
Five girls from the same family and all of them are international wrestlers right now, courtesy Mahavir Phogat. The coach won the well-deserved Dronacharya Award in 2016.
Not the most famous name in this list, Cyrus Poncho is the reason behind India’s incredible rise in Squash, one of the least discussed game in the country. Poncha is the current coach of the Indian squash Academy in Chennai. He continues to create superstars for tomorrow at the academy with his current batch of students already making waves at the world stage.
Poncha’s two students Dipika Pallikal and Joshna Chinappa are two of the biggest Indian Squash stars in India. The duo has won the Gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in doubles event and silver at the 2018 Games. Dipika became the first ever Indian to break into the top 10 of the world rankings as well.
Saurav Ghosal is another star player who has been coached by Cyrus Poncha. The 33-year old has won 5 titles and 10 tour finals along with a Gold at the 2014 Asian Games. Ghosal is currently at his highest world ranking – 10th!
Poncha won the Dronacharya Award in 2005 and was named coach of the year by the Asian Squash Federation in 2004, 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2016.
The man who needs no introduction – Ramakant Achrekar is the one to unearth the cricketing gem named Sachin Tendulkar. Granted, Achrekar was the coach at Mumbai’s famous Shivaji Park, and Ajit Tendulkar was the one to take young Sachin to the coach. But Achrekar soon realised the potential of the 11-year old and started grooming him for the biggest stage.
And groom he did! Sachin made his international debut at the mere age of 16 after making a name for himself at the domestic circuit. And it was all courtesy Ramakant Achrekar, who used to work on Sachin’s batting for hours every day. The rest, as they say, is history! Sachin Tendulkar is arguably the greatest batsman ever.
Ramakant Achrekar has also Ajit Agarkar, Vinod Kambli and Pravin Amre. But his biggest gift to the world cricket will always be Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar!
The coach won the Dronacharya Award in 1990, just a year after Tendulkar’s debut. And while it might have seemed a little premature at the time, Tendulkar made sure it was a well-deserved one with his performances over the next two decades.
An Asian Games Gold medallist during in his playing days, Satpal Singh is the coach of the only Indian to win medals at two different Olympics – Sushil Kumar. Saptal was a quality wrestler in 1980s and won the Gold medal at the 1982 Asian Games.
But it was his coaching career which made him one of the most famous names in Indian wrestling fraternity. Satpal is the coach of the wrestling Akhada in Delhi since 1988. But it was his star student Sushil Kumar who made him proud at the world’s biggest stage.
Sushil won the bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics and followed it with a silver four years later. To this very day, he remains the only athlete from India to have won medals at two different Olympic Games. And Satpal Singh played a pivotal role in Sushil’s historic success.
The legendary coach has been awarded Arjuna award in 1974, Padma Shri in 1983, Dronacharya award in 2009 and Padma Bhushan in 2015. Talk about an impressive resume!