Ravjot Singh Kahlon is full of anomalies. He is from Punjab but has lived all his life in Delhi. He loves the fast paced sport of basketball, but equally enjoys the sedate, slow twitch muscle dependent field of distance running. He is a point guard (whose main job is ball distribution) but prefers shooting threes, sometimes from the halfcourt. Currently studying in America, he has a slew of coaches at his disposal, but considers YouTube as his Guru. His English is peppered liberally with American slang, but when asked who his favourite sportsperson is, Dhyan Chand is the name that pops out. On the exterior he is the typical affluent Indian teenager who grew up in Delhi and went abroad for his higher studies, but he is true to his Indian roots: a Sikh who wears his heart on his sleeve and a turban on his head.
Last August the 18-year-old moved to St Louis Christian Academy in far away Missouri, USA. “I had no choice because basketball is not India’s cup of tea.” Kahlon’s family lives in West Delhi and his father is a businessman. “I was very fond of cricket but I couldn’t play because my school didn’t have the facilities and my dad didn’t let me go to coaching classes either because I was too young.”
The switch to basketball wasn’t easy. “My family didn’t like it but I guess they starting supporting me eventually, probably because they knew I wasn’t doing well academically.”
The Punjabi lad was part of Delhi’s u-17 team a few years ago, an accomplishment he considers himself “undeserving of” as there were “other players better than me”.
Not surprisingly, the 5ft 10’5 inch teenager idolises the mercurial India point guard TJ Sahi who is known equally for his barbs at the state of basketball in India apart from his incredible hops. “The Delhi state team coaches didn’t consider me good enough for any attention. The coaches at St Louis are very professional but remain preoccupied with my talented teammates, some of whom can eventually make it to the NBA or the Euro league. So my only teacher is YouTube.”
Kahlon has another school year with St Louis and is working towards securing a collegiate athletic scholarship. “There’s no point working hard without thinking smart,” he ends with a flourish.