‘Helping out kids gives me satisfaction’

Says city paddler Manthan Shah who is working for two different NGOs in Pune to find rural talent

Sports persons always tend to offer a helping hand to other sectors of society. There are numerous sports celebrities who have donated money to charity. It’s not always about money, as some devote their time for the underprivileged.

Pune’s table tennis player Manthan Shah is one of them. The recent School International bronze medallist has taken time out from his rigorous training session to help rural kids. For the past six months he has been working with Tiny Monkey Stage, a Pune-based NGO run by Sudarshan Mahajan. Along with this, he is also a volunteer for Teach For India, another NGO, which is working to end educational inequality.


“Being a sports person, my role is to search for talent in rural and underprivileged kids. We then recommend their names to Krida Prabodhini in Pune and on that basis, the kids are likely to get absorbed in their sport enrichment program,” said Manthan.

Asked whether he has come across any naturally talented table tennis player, he said, “Table tennis is more of a skill-based game, and it requires grooming for years. So it’s not easy to point out that this kid can be a future table tennis player. What I have observed is that these kids are well suited for physical games like wrestling and boxing. They have a good build and their constant struggle to survive gives them an edge with a killer instinct. So far we have recommended three names.”

In the recently concluded Vilas Javdekar Trophy PYC 4th Pune District Ranking Table Tennis Tournament, Manthan finished with a double crown. In the youth category, he defeated Shounak Shinde 4–1 after being 0–1 down in the first game. Later in the men’s final, he prevailed over Anurag Gote 4–3. Manthan was leading comfortably with a 3–0 lead, but Anurag didn’t let him have that easy and bounced back strongly to equalise the score. In the decider, Manthan was on his toes and with a classical display of forehand topspins, he annexed the title.

“I unnecessarily became defensive in the middle of the game and he grabbed that opportunity. Then the pressure kept mounting and I was making small errors. In the decider, I had nothing to lose, so I went all out and that worked,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gaurav Lohapatre and Vaibhavi Kher lifted the boys and girls under-18 titles.


Originally published on The Golden Sparrow

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