“I started working as a Lecturer with S.N.D.T. University since the time I came to Thane. But somewhere in my heart I always felt a strong urge to do something for my passion – Table Tennis. I wanted to take up coaching Table Tennis, maybe set up my own club for this. My dream took shape when on 5th February, 1995 I started the ,strong>Booster Club of Table Tennis in Thane in the premises of M.H. High School
Initially I started with just three tables and 10 - 12 players. Some of the initial hardships included suffocation due to insufficient ventilation – reason the club was in the basement of the building. But as they say “Where there is a will there is a way”, my determination and dedication helped me overcome the teething problems.
Two years passed with decent progress. The winning story started in Jalgaon in June 1996, the 1st State Ranking tournament of the season. The club team was 6 players strong. All the players put in a spirited performance which pleased one and all. Aditi Jagannath brought home the first title for the club by winning the Cadet Girls event. Continuing her brilliant performance she entered the Quarter Finals of the Sub-junior event also. The very same year she went on to represent Maharashtra State in the National Championships. The wonderful performances of all the players boosted my confidence and morale sky high. Aditi had paved the way for others to follow.
It was not all smooth sailing though. At around the same time that the boys and girls had started giving award winning performances, the school authorities instructed us to vacate the premises. It was tough to start the entire process from scratch. But help was on its way in the form of Khandesh Education Society. They had a school in Naupada, Bhagwati High School and they were kind enough to rent us the premises on their terrace. The club had a new home.
But it was barely that, with just a waist-length wall around and a roof overhead. During school hours the terrace was used for some or the other activities by the school. This meant removing and re-arranging the tables every single day. Even under such trying circumstances the club had grown from 3 tables to 5 with around 20 players. The waist-high wall did not give any protection and being open from all sides the club was literally open to the elements. Strong winds would move the ball with it. The rains brought in with them their own set of problems and more hardships, with rain water drenching everything, the floor, the tables and the players too. With no other choice for the premises we had to accept everything and continue with our mission. Tough conditions never deterred our players from putting in glorious award-winning performances. Probably they made me and the players more tough and more determined to succeed against the odds. Madhurika Patkar won the State Championship, three others went to Ajmer to representMaharashtra.It was no turning back thereafter.
The club was going from strength to strength. There was a steady increase in the number of players. It was difficult for me to cope up with the passion of the players, both in terms of space and time. First of all I added one more table. Next I started two different batches. In 1998, for the first time, I took 2 players for the Zonals at Lucknow.Madhurika did not let me down and played the Cadet Finals.
With the increase in the number of players only 2 hours’ of practice was not sufficient for competitive tournaments. We booked one more hall at the Brahman Shikshan Mandal Schoolnearby. The school allowed the use of the hall for the entire day. At least now we had time. But the new venue came with its own set of problems. It was as if the rains were following us at every venue. Most of the time was spent in removing the rain water off the floor, leaving hardly any time for practice. Within a year we shifted premises to Hitvardhini Sabha hall in Brahman Society. The place was small but more importantly it was at our disposal for the entire day.
In 2000, Madhurika Patkar won her first Zonal Title by winning the Sub-jr. event. With this winning performance she was on her way to China becoming the first player of our club to don India colours.
The club is presently in its 14th year. The long years of hardship have now given way to stability and inherent strength. The club is now 70 players strong. The facilities include: 10 tables, Robot, Top spin Devices, 300-350 balls for multi-ball routines. We also have state-of-the-art weights for weight-training. Keeping up with the present times and needs, our facilities now also include support staff in the form of a physical trainer, yoga trainer, psychiatrist for mental training and a health consultant.
Amid all this the core strength of the club remains its players. Boosters can now boast of 4 international players, 26 national players out of which as many as 12 got selected for National Championships in 2007 alone. The 26 national players have represented the club on 144 occasions, a feat very few others can ever think of.
In 2004, Madhurika literally wrote the club's name in gold. She won 4 Gold Medals at the SAF Games in New Delhi. Beyond doubt she is the Golden Girl of the club. With her immense grit, determination and winning attitude she is a constant source of inspiration for her other colleagues.
Alongside Madhurika, we have Prajakta Tipale, a worthy semi-finalist at the Asian Championship in 2006. Another budding talent in the form of Pooja Sahasrabuddhe has blossomed in the recent times. Pooja and Madhurika bagged a Golden Double winning the Junior and Youth titles in 2006 National Championships. Other illustrious players have maintained the high standards of the Golden Trio and continued their winning traditions, thereby adding to the club's title tally. Recently, Madhurika acquired the ONGC and Pooja the Oil India sponsorship for Table Tennis respectively. Prajakta secured employment with Railways. 2008 gave the club its Youth Commonwealth Doubles Silver Medal winner in the form of Pooja Sahasrabuddhe. The crowning glory of 2008 was the ‘Best Performing Club’ award given by TDTTA.
Looking back over the years, it gives me immense satisfaction and a sense of achievement for the numerous titles won by the club, giving our district, state and indeed our country many good players and medal prospects. But it is not time to sit back and rest on ones laurels. I can feel the immense responsibility of maintaining the tradition of churning out more and more champions and winning performances from these champions for the glorious game of Table Tennis.”
Mrs. Shailaja Gohad