Sukhdev Singh's promising career in basketball was rudely interrupted by an ACL injury. But now, his daughter, Harsimran Kaur, is looking to fulfill the dream that remained unfulfilled.
Earlier this week, Harsimran became the first woman from the NBA Academies Women's Programme to be invited to the NBA Global Academy at Basketball Australia's Centre of Excellence in Canberra, Australia. The 16-year-old from Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala will spend just over two weeks at the Canberra centre " which serves as the NBA's hub for top prospects from outside USA " participating in training sessions, three-on-three scrimmages and weight training sessions alongside some of the best prospects from Australian whilst under the eyes of coaches from the NBA Academy and Basketball Australia's Centre of Excellence.
"The only reason I play basketball is my father," Harsimran told Firstpost over the phone from Bengaluru where she was attending the national team's camp. "I picked up an interest in the game of basketball after watching him play. I used to always sit outside and watch him play on the court next to our house. Soon I started playing one-on-one with my father. I was the only girl in that club to play the sport at that time. When I grew up, I learnt that my dad had dreamt of playing for India one day and how that dream was cut short due to the ACL injury. Toh maine apne passion ko pakka bana liya (That's when my passion became my mission). I decided so what if my father couldn't do it, I'll do it for him. Since I'm the eldest daughter, there are a lot of expectations from me."
Sukhdev was playing in the All-India University tournament when the injury happened. He rose for a dunk, but as soon as he landed he knew something was amiss in his knee. The tournament ended with a gold for his team, but his basketball career never recovered.
Harsimran is keen to use this exposure trip to Canberra to better her skills. She's already made waves with her game, having represented India at multiple events, including the 3x3 Asian Championships held in Jakarta in August this year. But her own dream is to break into the WNBA, the women's equivalent of the NBA.
"In two years, I want to join a good university in USA. That will present the best route for me to break into the WNBA, by impressing franchises with my game.
"I know it's very difficult. Even for American players, it's not easy to break into the WNBA. Par jab tak koi cheez difficult na ho, usko poora karneka mazaa nahi aata (But unless your target is difficult there's no point in chasing it.)"