Raspreet Sidhu: On What It Takes To Be India’s Basketball Captain

Raspreet Sidhu: On What It Takes To Be India’s Basketball Captain

Welcome to our section where we bring you stories of and conversations with inspirational women who’ve changed lives and given back to the community. Today, I have with me Raspreet Sidhu, who is the Captain of the Indian Women’s Basketball Team and has been playing for the country for the past 17 years. She’s also the Head of Sports at Shiv Nadar School, Delhi and has previously been the Guest Lecturer at Miranda College, Delhi & Head Coach at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, respectively. To top it off, Raspreet has also been the youngest player to represent India in all three formats of the game—Under-18, under-21 and senior women. Today, she talks to us about dreaming big, balancing basketball & work and not letting anyone stop her from making a mark in the blue Indian jersey. 

Watch the full discussion below or listen to the podcast here 

A few snippets from our conversation here

Adarsh: Hi Raspreet. Thank you for joining us today.
Raspreet: Hello Adarsh, it’s a pleasure being here.

Adarsh: Congratulations on all your amazing accomplishments, Raspreet! Tell us how you got into the game.
Raspreet: My love for the game started at 11, when I had accompanied my father (a long-distance runner & also a basketball player) to the Asian Basketball Championship for Under-21 Women. I remember that game like it was yesterday! I was in the stands, watching the Indian team play against Japan, in the blue Indian jerseys. It was then that my goal was set. All I wanted to do was to wear that jersey & play basketball for India. That’s all I saw myself doing, to be a passion-driven player for the country & win medals.

Adarsh: That’s remarkable! Was your father Mr Sukhwinder Singh (who himself was an athlete) a reason for you becoming a sports love. Especially in a country like India where kids aren’t encouraged to take up sports.
Raspreet: Genetically, yes. My father was a long-distance runner and a basketball player. I always saw him working out, playing and being dedicated to fitness. But he never forced me to take up sports. I just picked it up unconsciously. I was always encouraged by my parents, who raised me like how a child should be raised, irrespective of gender. Their idealogy, love & trust in me is responsible for me choosing & excelling in such an unconventional field. My parents, my coach & later, my husband have had a massive impact, and I’ve never heard them say that I can’t do something because of my gender. But it was also very clear that it could not be at the cost of academics. Having that balance between basketball, academics & work is something I learnt early on.

Adarsh: You’ve been playing for the past 17 years. How have you seen basketball evolve in that time frame?
Raspreet: It’s been a gradual process. When I started playing, we were ranked 12th-13th in Asia. Fast forward to 2017, India moved up to the 6th position in all three formats—Under-18, under-21 and senior women. It was a huge deal! A lot of hard work, effort and planning was put in for us to reach that goal. It may not look like much but to compete with powerhouses like China and Japan—their training, philosophy and sheer professionalism—it’s just amazing. I’m thrilled to see youngsters get so much exposure today and the opportunity to play for the country as well as abroad. We’ve definitely come a long way.

Adarsh: Fantastic! To conclude, what would be your advice to young athletes watching this today?
Raspreet: Don’t worry about results. Don’t let the outcome stop you from putting in your 100% effort. Nothing can be achieved without hard work. Dream big, visualise yourself in that dream & don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. After all, how can even the sky be the limit when there are footprints on the moon?

All images used are the sole property of Raspreet Sidhu and cannot be used without prior permission