Pune: Four members from a family spanning two generations, are united by one fuelling passion — table tennis. The Meherally family, originally from Goa, settled in Pune in 1996 with a unique passion for Table- tennis in a cricket crazy country.
Iqbal Meherally(49) and his brother Yusuf (51) started playing Table-Tennis to pass time, and eventually entered the arena on a professional level, while representing Damodar College at Margao, Goa.
“My brother and I bought a table and started playing table-tennis to pass time when it rained. We started enjoying the game so much that it became our passion. We represented Goa during our college days. I won in during my first year in college, came in second by the second year and semi-finalist in third year,” said Iqbal.
He had been ranked 7th in India, in the sub-junior category back in 1978. Iqbal had been among the top three table tennis players in Goa, and his brother Yusuf made it to the top five between 1975-88.
“We discontinued playing table tennis in 1988 to make time to establish our new business, a colour lab in Goa,” said Iqbal. His love for table tennis was rekindled in 2003, when his daughters started showing interest in the game. He is now coaching them, as they play for St Mira, Pune.
His elder daughter, Yamani (19), has played in different competitions since 2005-2012, she quit in 2007 for her education. Apart from her college, Yamani also played in Open State Level Matches.
On having her own father as the coach and younger sister as an opponent, Yamani said, “My father is very professional on the field. He does not allow any excuses or spare us if we make mistakes, just like any other coach. When my sister and I face each other on field, we are opponents and compete against each other and give our best each time.”
Fauzia (17) the youngest of the family is already a big name in the game. In her three Nationals until now, she has bagged bronze in the first and was among top players in Maharashtra A. In her second Nationals she qualified for the quarters, and was in Maharashtra B and was captain of her team in third.
Fauzia wants to continue playing professionally till she can, she is planning to become a professional coach in future just like her father.
“On field, our father is a different person. He is strict and does not tolerate lethargy and mistakes on field. We follow a strict routine of four hours practice and a one-hour fitness training on holidays and two-hour practice and one-hour fitness training regularly,” said the girls.