Saturday, September 13, 2014

Thupten Kunga Memorial Table Tennis Championship - A fitting tribute to a devoted teacher

Table Tennis in Sikkim owes a lot to Late Thupten Kunga, who has coached not only the present generation of paddlers but also future generations as his students who have now become coaches themselves take his teachings and the spirit of the game forward...
Late Thupten Kunga who was the State Chief Table Tennis Coach till 2008 when he died in a tragic car accident has contributed immensely to the development and popularity of the game in Sikkim. "Married to Table Tennis", as he would often say of himself, the hardworking and dedicated coach has produced many table tennis players, from national and regional level players to some who have now become table tennis coaches themselves.
In recognition of his hardwork and contributions and also to pay homage to the Late Coach, the Thupten Kunga Memorial Table Tennis Championship was started in 2012 by the State TT Coach, Norden Bhutia with the support of the Sikkim Table Tennis Academy, Tadong. Since then, every year his students and many others come together to participate in the tournament in his memory.
This year, the 3rd edition of the tournament was organised together with the 8th edition of the State Open Veterans Table Tennis Championship 2014 at Paljor Stadium indoor gymnasium hall from 07 to 09 September. The three-day championship was organised by Sikkim Veterans Table Tennis Association [SVTTA].
More than 250 paddlers from different parts of the state as well as St Joseph's Convent and Rockvale Academy from Kalimpong participated in the championship. The championship had 07-year-old Eunice Rai of St Thomas as the Youngest Participant and 65-year-old PJ Lama as the Oldest Participant. There were altogether 18 categories from U-12 cadet to 50 years’ plus in veteran’s category.
Speaking to NOW!. some of his students share their deep gratitude and respect for the Late Coach.
State TT Coach, Norden Bhutia, who was also a student of Thupten Sir says, "Thupten Sir has played a great role in developing and promoting table tennis in the state, producing lots of quality paddlers. It is great to see his students coming together to play and conduct this tournament in his name every year". He assures that this annual tournament will be continued in the future.
National player Zarina Rana, who is Table Tennis coach In-charge [West District] says, “I started playing table tennis under his guidance at the age of 11 and for everything I have achieved so far in table tennis the credit goes to Thupten Sir”. She also adds that he always engaged parents of TT players in the game in order to better develop and promote it.
Another national player, Mandira Gurung says, “I started playing table tennis when I was 8 years old. Thupten Sir taught me how to hold a racket correctly and I have learned whatever I know of the game from him".  He was very punctual and dedicated to his work and would be coaching students from early morning to late in the evening, she adds.
Former general secretary of Sikkim Table Tennis Association, Karma Bhutia credits Thupten Sir for producing lots of national players from the state. "Those students who started table tennis with Thupten Sir are now working as table tennis coaches in the state", he says.
“As a person he was a gentleman and a dedicated coach who developed the game of table tennis in the state. I never saw him dressed in any formal attire. Always in a tracksuit he would be busy teaching his students all the time,” Mr Bhutia added.
As his students compete with each other to be the best, the Thupten Kunga Memorial Championship is a fitting tribute to a devoted teacher.

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