A few weeks ago, Punjab baller Anmolpreet Kaur made history by becoming the first Indian girl to get a scholarship to play high school basketball in Japan. Anmolpreet has started her basketball career/training from 2 April 2016 officially in Toa Gakuen High School and will be training for 3 years in Tokyo, Japan. We caught up with the young gun days before she was leaving for Japan to learn more about her inspiring journey.
Anmolpreet did her schooling for Malwa Khalsa Senior Secondary School. The 6 foot 1 inch power forward from Punjab was a natural athlete since an early age. Her sports journey however, started off as a sprinter. She then moved to shotput before being nudged into basketball because of her height. She instantly fell in love with the game and developed a passion for it. Soon afterwards, she was selected to represent her state Punjab in the National Games where she led her team to 4th position, making her squad the first girls’ team from Punjab to achieve such a feat.
It was Anmolpreet’s father, Parminder Singh who recognized the potential she possessed and encouraged her to push her limits, to try and play professionally. Coaches like Jaipal Singh and Devinder Singh provided her with knowledge and guidance while the General Secretary of the Punjab Basketball Association, Teja Singh Dhaliwal helped her along in the process of being selected to the camp for Team India.
Anmolpreet loves working in the post where she can use her size and strength to overpower her defenders. Funnily enough, her favourite NBA player happens to be Stephen Curry.
A selection tryout was held at the Jaypee Greens facility in Greater Noida for girls over 6ft born between 2 April 1999 and 1 April 2000. Head Coach and Principal of Toa Gakuen High School Mr Furumi came down from Japan to assess the talent and out of the final three shortlisted players, Anmolpreet made the cut.
When asked how she felt when she got the news that she was selected, a huge smile crept across her face and she described feeling a mixture of disbelief and elation. “It was like a dream come true. At first, I didn’t believe it.”
When asked about any fears or misgivings she may have about going abroad, she boldly replied, “I have no fears. I just want to play basketball”. The prospect of playing at a higher level excites her and her singular focus rests on playing professionally, following in the footsteps of fellow Punjabi ballers Amjyot and Amritpal Singh.
As with Pallavi Sharma, this player movement was also facilitated by Mr Rohit Bakshi, with the scouting assistance of Pursuit, and a Japanese FIBA certified agent.
Explaining the significance of these developments, Mr Bakshi had said via an email interview. “Japan has a special assistance programme for female basketball players. Foreign female basketball players studying in Japan for over 5 years including school and college, will be given the eligibility to play as professionals under the Japanese quota. To promote Japanese players, currently the JBA (Japan Basketball Association) had made a rule of only one foreigner to be played at the time on each basketball game. However, if above conditions are made, there can be 2 foreign players playing together.”
“Japan is a great starting ground for us to develop our players. Let’s hope that Anmol and Pallavi pave the way for many more Indian players,” said Pursuit head Mr Vishnu Ravi Shankar.
Pursuit is the newly launched talent management and scouting division of Ekalavyas Consultancy Private Limited. The aim is to find and create the right opportunities for budding athletes with the talent and potential to succeed at the international level. Through its grassroots network, Pursuit is able to spot athletic talent from a young age and help them along their playing careers, whether in India or abroad. Pursuit is headed by Vishnu Ravi Shankar, who is a Director at Ekalavyas, and hopes to become India’s pre-eminent and pioneering basketball scouting and talent management agency.