To play or not to play, that is the question in the mind of 18-year-old Dildar Singh Brar. The basketballer from Bhatinda recently represented the junior Indian team at the 2014 FIBA Asia Championships, and now finds himself at the crossroads.
“I feel like I’ve gone as far as possible and should focus on my studies.”
Brar has just joined Punjab University, Patiala and is working towards an undergraduate degree in social sciences. “As of today there still isn’t a lot of scope for basketball in India, so a basic college education is important in order to get a job.”
He is the first in his family to have taken up sports and played at such a high level. “My elder sister who lives in New Zealand is so proud of me that she keeps sending me basketball accessories like shoes and jerseys.”
The ‘cool lifestyle’ of ballers made Brar switch from a promising athletic career in his early school years. “My chacha (uncle) told me about the Ludhiana Basketball Academy, which is the best training centre in India.” After gruelling tryouts, he was selected at the residential facility where he has lived and practised for the last four years. “When I entered the Academy at the age of 14 I only knew how to make layups. So I’ve definitely come a long way.”
At 6ft 3 inches, he considers himself a defensive and rebounding specialist. “My athletic background means that I can play a pestering man to man defense for a full 40 minutes.” Prior to this year’s Asian Championships, the small forward was part of the junior Indian team in the successful South Asian Qualifying campaign, and back in 2012, he even went to Russia to participate in a ‘mini-Olympic’ event.
“Among Indian players I idolise TJ Sahi and Jagdeep Singh Bains who are also from Punjab and have each represented the country more than 35 times. Unfortunately, they are struggling for jobs today. So what chance do I have?”
Does this mean he has given up on the sport completely? “If a professional league for seniors actually launches in the near future, then maybe I will return. I can neither live with basketball nor can I live without it!”
No doubt, Bono has found a fan in Brar.