Raspreet Sidhu remembers the prophetic words of Arnold Henry whenever she enters the court: Your limits are somewhere up there, waiting for you to reach beyond.
Sidhu, a key member of the Indian women basketball team, plays for the flag, not for the cheers or jeers, or prizes.
In cricket-crazy India, there is little cash in basketball.
“The Indian flag is my pride and as long as I play for the flag I am fine. Its just that somehow the biased nature of the country disheartens me,” she told tadpoles.
Sidhu started when she was 7 years old, first coached by one VP Narula who convinced her parents to send her for basketball games in the school.
Narula still remembers that day. “She is one of the best basketball players a country can ever have. She is dedicated and disciplined and she thinks of the game 24X7.”
In 2005, she was a part of the U-17 Indian team. And then the growth started, 17, 19 and 21. Sidhu was integral to basketball, almost like Dhoni to cricket.
But she never neglected her studies, picking up brilliant marks throughout.
“That’s her brilliance. She is a great basket ball player, supremely fit but also a bright student,” adds Narula.
Sidhu knows how difficult it is for a girl in India to make a career in sports.
“I have seen lot of girls going through trouble while selecting unpopular sport as the career option in India. Thankfully, I did not face any such problem, my parents were supportive.”
“Many of my seniors drifted away from court because they could not see any future in this game.”
She remembers an incident.
India had won its maiden gold in Asia Cup but not a soul was interested in India to know their victory. She was shocked, stunned. “Not even a single article was published. No one came at the airport, no cameras, no headlines.”
Her determination to pick up more medals grew manifold after that shocker.
The current coach of junior basketball team, Shiba Maggon, calls Sidhu a fighter.
“I have played with her, 7 years in Delhi team and 2 years in National team. She will not lose hope till the last minute. In one game we were behind from 3 points and all of us lost hope. She was the only one hopeful. Six seconds were left and in the last second she scored the basket to level the score. She is always positive.”
Sidhu, standing close, smiles.
She remembers how once a kid asked her how come she was not as famous as Sachin Tendulkar.
Sidhu smiled, knowing very well who to blame for the answer.
Basketball hardly makes Breaking News in India.