Inspiring Generations —T Ao
The late Dr. Talimeren Ao needs no introduction. The doctor-sportsman was the captain of independent India’s first football team, which participated at the London Olympics in 1948. And now, after seven decades since the achievement, T Ao as he was fondly called by his friends and admirers, is on the verge of achieving another first. A portrait of the legendary footballer will soon appear on the cover of a brochure to be published by RG Kar Medical College & Hospital Alumni Association in commemoration of Dr. Ao’s birth centenary. Dr. Ao will be the first person to appear on the cover of the prestigious brochure other than Dr. Radha Gobinda Kar, the person whom the hospital is dedicated to. A special function has also been organised to release the brochure wherein former footballers will be present.
Today’s generation have not been lucky enough to see T Ao in action but his ability as a footballer can easily be judged from the fact that under his leadership India performed creditably in London Olympics. Two missed penalties ruined India’s chances to finish the Olympics with a medal, but T Ao and his men won the hearts of football fans. The western world was astonished to see Indians playing bare-footed. Remember, that was the first time India had participated as an Independent nation in the Olympics. So apart from winning medals, the entire contingent had the added responsibility of representing our country as sporting ambassadors, which they performed the with distinction. T Ao was known for many memorable performances; he was a popular name in Kolkata football, which is still considered as the Mecca of Indian football. Inter-state transfers were not practiced during those days, however, such was T Ao’s ability with the ball that he became an automatic choice for the Kolkata giant and earned many laurels for the club. He was a sportsman to the core and was known for his fair play. Though he used to play as a defensive midfielder, he rarely committed fouls. He was the pivot of attack and a wall to thwart opponent’s aggression. T Ao performed this dual role with ease in matches as he did in life. T Ao managed his medical studies and football career with equal ease and after retirement from competitive football, devoted himself to medical practice. His contemporaries remember how after a match or practice, whilst everyone was busy discussing football, T Ao would be found going through his study materials. As a matter of fact, while going to London on a ship, T Ao studied throughout the trip as he had to appear an important examination soon after his return.
What T Ao lacked was self- promotion. Thus, even after being a beacon of Indian football, he has been largely forgotten by his own countrymen. Going by the calendar year, his centenary was last year. But the nation did not celebrate the occasion with much fanfare. The institution, from where he graduated as a medical practitioner was also silent. The alumni association, however, remembered and honoured one of the great sons of Mother India. May the association continue its effort and inspire future generations through the life and deeds of Dr. Talimeren Ao, for generations to come.