Club coach pins hopes on Yuvraj Walmiki

Republicans' Patel hopes his pupil's brush with fame, moolah rubs off on cash-hit club

The Mumbai Hockey Association may have been a little late in felicitating hockey hero Yuvraj Walmiki yesterday -- they gave him Rs 1 lakh --  but got it spot on when they called upon the boy's first coach and mentor Marzban 'Bawa' Patel to handover the cheque to his ward.

Two good: Hockey ace Yuvraj Walmiki with his childhood coach
Marzban 'Bawa' Patel yesterday. Pic/shadab khan

Olympian Joaquim Carvalho said: "Whenever a player does well, he gets all the credit, while the coach, who has worked behind the scenes, is forgotten. Bawa deserves credit for Yuvraj's success."

Ironically, even as Patel's star player has been loaded with cash and awards following India's win in the Asian Champions Trophy tournament in China recently, the 61-year-old has received very little recognition for his relentless effort of producing champions.

Patel, who runs Bombay Republicans, a sports club founded in 1978, has churned out a host of Olympians like Viren Rasquinha, Adrian D'Souza, Gavin Ferreira, Jude Menezes, among others. Unfortunately, the club is struggling to stay afloat due to lack of funds.

Yesterday, however, Patel was over the moon, thanks to the achievements of his latest contribution to Indian hockey. "Yuvraj has worked very hard to reach where he is and deserves what he's getting," said Patel with a broad smile.

Speak of the Republicans though, and his expression changes. "At Republicans, we train a lot of kids from poor backgrounds -- like Yuvraj. Most of them cannot afford the basic equipment needed. We try to provide hockey sticks (Rs 1,000-plus), shoes (Rs 2,000-plus) and even nutrition to the under-privileged boys," Patel told MiD DAY yesterday.

"We have taken loans to keep this club going, but sadly the financial crunch continues. Unfortunately, corporate houses put in money only where they get returns. "I hope at least now (after Yuvraj's heroics) things get better for Republicans," added Patel.

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