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Bhawani Mukherji, Tapan Bose are no more




Jammu, December 6: It was a sad day for Indian table tennis as two stalwart coaches, Bhawani Mukherji and Tapan Bose, breathed their last today.


Bhawani Mukerji, 68, was ailing for quite some time and passed away at his Zirakpur residence today, near Chandigarh, while Tapan Bose suffered a heart attack a little later at his Chandigarh residence.


Mukherji is survived by his wife and son and Bose, who turned 78 this November, is survived by his wife, one son and one daughter.


Incidentally, Bose had made a courtesy call on his friend, Mukherji, just a couple of days before and it was a coincidence that both passed away almost together. In fact, the two had a good rapport with each other as Mukherji had served as Bose’s assistant before taking the reign as head coach at NIS, Patiala, after the latter’s retirement in 1974.


Bhawani da for scores of his friends and all top paddles of the country, who had known him personally and trained under him, was an affable personality who joined NIS, Patiala, in the mid-seventies after obtaining diploma in coaching at NIS.


Bhawani da, having played the sport passionately at school and college level, took up full-time coaching. He was the chief coach at NIS, Patiala, and travelled with the Indian teams before becoming the head coach of the national team for a brief period when India did not have a foreign expert after the 2010 Commonwealth Games. He accompanied the Indian paddlers—Soumyajit Ghosh and Ankita Das—to London Olympics and had served the cause of table tennis for 34 years before retiring from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) in 2014.


As recognition for his service to the sport, the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs bestowed him with the Dronacharya Award in 2012, thus becoming the first coach to earn the recognition in table tennis.


Mukherji, a widely travelled coach with the Indian teams abroad, had the ability to spot out talent and nurture them. Mukherji did his schooling and graduation from Ajmer where his father was a medical practitioner.


Mukherji, though bed ridden, was continuously in touch with his friends, players, parents and officials through posts on FB and Twitter, besides using What’s App chats to great effect to communicate with people and keep himself abreast with the news of table tennis.


In fact, even after his retirement, Mukherji was coaching players regularly at the Agricultural University in Punjab until he fell ill.


Bose, who led the Uttar Pradesh team in nationals, became the state champion in the seventies. He represented the state along with the likes of Vinod Mehta, who was the editor of Outlook magazine. In fact, he was such a good player that he ranked India No. 7 in the last sixties as a junior player.


A product of Lucknow Bengali Club, he completed his diploma at NIS, Patiala before becoming the head coach and served at NIS, Patiala. He was also the national coach and under his guidance several players were able to showcase their potential as they went on to represent the country.


Bose had the occasion to be the national coach of the Mauritius team when it participated in the first World Championships at Kolkata in 1975.


Recalling their services to the sport, TTFI Secretary General M.P. Singh appreciated both stalwarts contribution. “It was, indeed, a sad day for the entire table tennis fraternity. Strange are the ways of fate that two great coaches passed away on the same day. We are saddened to no end as both Bhawani da and Tapan da were father figures for several of the current crop of players. Like they, we will all miss their presence. I offer my heartfelt condolences to both the families,” he said.