Raspreet Sidhu is an Indian Basketball player and also the current Captain of the Indian National Team.
Raspreet is full of enthusiasm and positivity and is a perfect fit for the post of a Captain. She brings in a lot dedication and focus and these qualities certainly help the Indian Team.
Here is an interview full of energy given by Raspreet Sidhu to SportsBeatsIndia.
How is your training going on currently and which tournament you are practising for?
We have just returned from the 3 vs 3 tournament which was held in China. We don’t have any updates about the next tournaments but even the off season period is extremely important as we get ample time to improve ourselves and work on our counter parts.
What exactly is 3 vs 3 format and how do you practise for it?
This format was introduced way back in 2007 and India has been really successful in this format. The 1st Gold Medal that India has ever won in the history of Indian Basketball was in this format.
3 vs 3 is an extremely fast game and the intensity in this game is way too high. This format involves a team of 4 and unlike the 5 vs 5 format, 3 vs 3 is played half court.
The team which scores maximum points in 10 minutes or the team which scores 21 points first wins the match. We have a 30 seconds time out just to regain our energy and return to the court with full energy.
I was also the Captain of the Indian Team in this format in 2011. I think 3 vs 3 is like the T20 Cricket. This format helps the game to popularize and attract more crowd towards it.
Basically, the game is the same so the training is similar to what we do for 5 vs 5. But we try to focus more on Shooting and Planning. The normal format demands more of endurance but this format demands perfection.
How was your start? What was the reason you were attracted towards Basketball?
From the childhood itself I was aware about physical fitness. My father, Mr. Sukhwinder Singh was an athlete and he used to represent Delhi and Delhi University in running. He used to teach me the importance of physical fitness and I used to follow his instructions in order to stay fit. He also used to play Basketball so I started getting attracted towards it.
Usually in Indian Schools, the children who are fit and interested in Sports are allowed to play all the games. So one day my Physical Education Sir came up to me and asked me to join Basketball training from the next day as the coach will be starting the training.
So that’s how I started Basketball. I would say I experienced success very early and with extreme efforts I am at the highest level today.
What kind of support did you receive from your parents?
Representing India was my dream and they helped me achieve that. They have supported me in all the conditions and they provided me with all the facilities.
I think my upbringing was perfect and they treated me like an ideal child. They taught me morals and values and the entire credit of my successful career goes to my parents and the coaches who put in lot of efforts.
What kind of change did you notice in your career after your marriage?
My husband and my new family have supported me a lot in my career. The change I could notice was definitely a positive one. Basketball was the reason we met each other. It’s been more than 10 years that we know each other and he has been a pillar of strength for me.
My father- in- law, (Late). Col. KYS Panwar was in the Army. He was a Sena Medalist and Vishisht Sena Medalist. So serving the Nation is in the blood of my family.
My husband as well as my mother-in-law is extremely proud that someone even from this generation is serving the nation. My grandfather in law (Late) Brig. M.S Panwar (SM, VSM, AVSM) was in the Army.
So the whole family is extremely proud of me that I am continuing the tradition of serving the Nation.
Let me also tell you that my husband is also my personal trainer. He makes sure that I am at the best level, may it be in shooting or fitness. Being a trainer, I get a lot of help from him and he never fails to support me in any decision I take.
Who has been your role model in Basketball?
It was in 2000-2001 that there was a championship held in Delhi and the best teams from Asia were participating in that event. That’s when I got see my idol Yuko Oga play. She is a Japanese Basketball Player and she was my idol.
Watching her play in front of my eyes was like a dream come true. She has retired now but she was the one I looked upon as my role model.
I think that I am extremely lucky because I got to play against my idol in 2009. I was guarding her from the same side she was attacking.
The level of Basketball in Japan is extremely high. Unfortunately we lost the match but certainly gave a good fight. After the match, Yuko Oga came up to me and told me that I really played well and it was really difficult for her to go past me.
Getting praised by my idol was like the best moment of my life and I can never ever forget that.
If we talk about motivation and inspiration, how does the NBA inspire you?
See, NBA is the best league in the world. No other Basketball League can match the level of NBA. The amount of efforts and hard work the players put in inspires me a lot. Being a player I get to learn a lot of things and it helps me a lot in my game.
I even host the show ‘NBA around the hoop’ as an expert. I love doing that show as I am the only Indian Active Player to be in the show. My main motive is to promote Indian Basketball at the highest level. The game will only gain recognition when people will watch the matches and talk about this game in their houses. The best players of the world play here and it has been a great experience for me doing this show.
A team game needs a good coach who can guide you to success. What kind of role do the Indian and foreign coaches play while they take the control of the team?
Foreign coaches bring in a lot of experience and knowledge along with them. The culture of Basketball is extremely high in European and American Countries. From 2009 foreign coaches have been appointed for the National Team. They teach a lot of new aspects and point of views to the players as well as the coaches.
There is a difference between techniques and normal training. So foreign coaches help us to learn and adapt new techniques. That’s when their experience and knowledge matters.
The Indian Coaches are also extremely dedicated and focused. They give their 100% while coaching.
Which coach has been the most important in your career?
I have played under many great coaches but if I had to take one name, it would be my first coach – Mr. V.P Nirula. He is the one who taught me the basics of Basketball. He made sure that I am perfect at my basics.
Another amazing thing about Nirula Sir is that under his guidance, 3 international players have emerged. He was also an International Player.
As I said before even my father used to play basketball, so he made me practise shooting till I gain perfection. I used to practise 1000-2000 shots and train for almost 4-5 hours. So he has also been a great coach for me.
Even my husband plays an important role as he is my trainer.
You have been part of the Indian team for 16 years. What kind of role do you play in the team and how do you manage to handle the stress and tension situations?
I am the current captain of the team and I have been an active member since 16 years.
There are some things which only come with experience. While playing for the nation and any club, I have faced pressure situations a hundred times. So it has become like a routine now.
One thing I make sure is that, I keep myself calm in difficult situations. Only then I will be able to help the team. You can only find a way out when you clearly know what you are doing.
I make sure that I inspire the team and keep spreading positivity. According to me the mentality of the team matters much more than anything else. The will to win matters. I try to keep the players motivated from the start of the tournament till the end.
You must have played with many players in the national team until now. So who are the players you really connect with?
I connect with the junior most to the senior most players as well, as I have to build the team rapo.
There is Shireen from Maharashtra, Jeena from Kerala, Madhu from West Bengal, Bhandavya from Karnataka and also there was Kavita. The main reason I can take these names is that these players have played a lot of basketball with me in the last few years.
How is the atmosphere in the Indian Dressing room? Who has the responsibility to lighten up the atmosphere?
See, every dressing room has its own rules. So I cannot tell you what we actually discuss because after all it’s the Indian Team.
The atmosphere depends on the situation. Like before a match or during the match, we discuss strategies and game plans. It maybe the instructions from the coach or there can be a conversation with the players.
Being the captain of the team and with really good connections I play the role of lightening up the situations. I always tell the players that learn to enjoy the game. You will only give your 100% if you enjoy your game. Live the moment and express yourself on the court.
You told us about the ways you manage your on court pressures and tensions. How do handle stress when you are off court?
Each and every person has a different way of relaxation and handling pressures. I personally feel that talking to the family members and spending time with them can help you a lot. If you get too involved in a thing it brings negativity at a point.
In my case being with the family diverts my mind from basketball for that particular time and it helps me relax. I also love to play with my dogs. It gives me an all different feeling.
We team mates also go to watch a movie once in 2 weeks and it really releases tension.
Going back to the FIBA Asia Cup Final held in Bangalore. What were your reactions after the match and what were your emotions at the last seconds?
When you took the name of the match I am having Goosebumps. That’s how we are connected to the ups and downs of the game. That match was one of the most amazing matches I have ever played and I can never forget that match.
If you ask me to describe it, I will say that our team wanted to win a bit more than the other team. That feeling of winning made us a better team than Kazakhstan that day. Another advantage was that we were playing in front of the home crowd. We had to win for the people who were supporting us. We had that home advantage and we won in one of the most thrilling finals ever.
What are the difficulties a player faces in Basketball?
This is the question which you know kind of makes me worried. If you compare sports with the gender point of view, women are given very less opportunities professionally.
Professionalism is what lacks the most in India.
The professionalism needed is not as much as the other games have.
So we need to find a way to attract the youth and take this game as a full time profession. Enhancing the game and creating more and more job opportunities with the help of Basketball should be done.
Where do you see Indian Basketball in the upcoming few years?
If you see the current progress, many young players have been chosen by the NBA and those kids are training at their institutes which itself is a very big thing. I just hope that these kids come back to India in the near future and represent their country as well. The future of Indian Basketball is really bright.
How will you address the youth?
I am a big believer of dreams. I would tell them to dream big and aim as high as possible.
If you dream, set a goal and put the right amount of efforts, no one can stop you from achieving what you want in life.
Focus on your dream and the dreams do come true. Believe in yourself and don’t give up.
I also dreamt something and today I can say that I have achieved what I dreamt of.
Let’s take a quick Rapid Fire Round
• Steph Curry or Lebron James
• 3 vs 3 format or 5 vs 5
Ahh, a very technical and tricky question! I am equally active in both but I would choose the 3 vs 3 format.
• 2 point layup or 3 pointer
• Your favourite NBA Club?
Lakers because of Lebron James
Raspreet has been a powerhouse of the team. She is full of energy and positivity.
Her leadership and the way she connects with the team members has helped the Indian Team a lot.
We at SportsBeatsIndia wish her Good Luck for her Future!