I came to Pune in 1997-98. When I came to this city as a kid I was already in love with badminton. I am not very sure about my parents intentions of coming to Pune then,but my intention was very clear even back then. I knew that pune had a history of great players and coaches,also it was cheaper to play the game here. So when I met vasant gore at the age of 10,with my dreamy eyes he immediately took me in. Before I met gore sir my parents had tried a lot of other coaches,most of them denied because of no space while some because I had the wrong technique. My parents were pretty desperate when they met gore sir. I guess more than the dreamy eyes of mine it was my parents sincere request that must have forced him to say yes. Though today I know that’s not the truth. Gore sir philosophy is clear if you want to learn and you fall between 9 to 13 years I will teach you.I have space or not or you hold your racket like a cricket bat.I will still teach you.
I started with gore sir at bal bhavan near Saras bagh. I still remember those days pretty clearly. We used to play from 6 to 8 in the morning and go to school from there. He used to make us train for an hour and then play for an hour. We would run 10 rounds,then go up the big slide and come down for some 10 times,skipping for 1000 counts and then finally play. I had a lot of boys in my batch then,being one of the few girls used to be fun. I used to have great fights with boys and mostly hit them a lot. I never got scolded by him,the poor boys used to always get his brunt. I used to feel real guilty some times and made sure to say sorry,and also that I again hit them the next day.it was pretty much the routine.
The first thing that gore sir taught me was the grip. He was the one responsible to make me technically really sound. He always focussed on one stroke,one routine at a time. He used to make a box in every corner of the court and till I didnt play the decided amount of lifts,or drops etc in that box he didn’t let me get to the next stroke. He used to make me hit the same stroke 100 times and I used to do it without any questions with as much sincerity as possible. Slowly as I started getting better he would start making me play against the boys. I used to lose pretty badly,and get very angry. He would make sure that he always put me against stronger opposition.I used to struggle and cry but he used to keep pushing me. What I didn’t realise was that I was getting stronger mentally,soon when I played the girls my age I would win very easily.as I started winning tournaments I would run to him and show him the trophy. He would always say only one thing ‘good! You have to achieve much more,keep working hard.’
Slowly as I started getting older and better he told me to join the Pdmba coaching scheme. I remember I didnt want to go,I told him I will play with you till retirement. He was adamant though, and made sure I joined the camp. Of course the camp helped ,I got to play many more senior players and than also I learnt a lot more new kind of training. Though I made sure that I played for at least two day a week with him. Playing with gore sir always made me confident he is the most honest guy around,so when he said it was a good session I knew he was really telling the truth. After Pdmba coaching camp the Prakash padukone academy came to Pune. I jumped at the opportunity mostly because I knew one of the coaches was hemant hardikar. I had heard a lot about him from gore sir. He was gore sirs first student.
Gore sir never ever played badminton in his childhood,he was actually a very good hockey player but in his time he could not dream of pursuing it. He started playing badminton when he was 20 and had just joined a bank. He got a offer to coach and he just took it. His first students were hemant hardikar and manjusha kanwar. As he started teaching he would read each and every literature about the game and learn everything through books and some cassetes he had. His students slowly started doing well and that’s how his love with coaching began and at 60 is still going strong.
My relationship with gore sir ranges from a student to a friend. I talk to him about everything from badminton to philosophy. He loves philosophy and gives me all kinds of books to read. Gore sir always pushed me to doing the right thing. He is someone who knew his limitations.he says ‘ Theres nothing wrong with knowing your limitations it helps you and importantly the people around you too.they know how much to expect from you.’ he would always hail all the other coaches as much more better than him.I always tell him that he should get an award for all his years in coaching. He always laughs it off. He tells me I never coached for awards or money,I always liked working with children luckily they liked working with me and i am very happy and satisfied with that.he lives in the same flat with his wife since I know him,he still drives the same khatara scooter. I always ask him when is he going to change it,he says he has too many memories attached to it,and besides it still takes him from A to B.
Gore sir has slowed down as far as coaching is concerned. he now enjoys his retired life,with his wife,books and tours around india. he lives a very simple and satisfied life today.
vasant gore is one of the best persons i have met. he has given pune a hell lot of quality players and hes done so with grace and utter sincerity. he has never expected anything back. he says his only prize is the love and respect his students have for him,and the flowers and chitale bandhu mithai he gets from his students for every guru pournima.
i wish gore sir lives for 100 more years,they dont make teachers like him anymore.