Satnam Singh has become the talk of the town after he made it to the NBA Draft. We are all proud of him not because he is a basketball player but because he is from India. But does India actually deserve the credit?
In above interview, Satnam Singh told a reporter that there is no hope for players in Punjab and India because there isn’t any help available for athletes. He expressed his disappointment that many players can make a difference internationally but due to circumstances never come forward. Many of his friends who were given jobs are now unemployed as their jobs have been taken back, hence are being abused by their families for the time devoted to the games and ending up unemployed.
Anger of Satnam Singh seems totally justified. Before Satnam Singh started training in the US, he was at the Ludhiana Basketball Academy (LBA) which has produced 40 international players with many employed in government jobs. But in reality the academy is in a deteriorated condition with the no basic amenities such as clean water, functional toilets, cleaning staff and no food from April to June due to excuses like college vacations.
This is not the plight of just one academy but many a times such situations have been highlighted, earlier as well. In a country that preaches cricket, these are many athletes, who found their calling in a different sport halfway across the world. Similar to Satnam Singh,in 2009 Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh became the first Indians to play baseball at the professional level in the USA. Both youngsters got involved in javelin-throwing and earned medals in national competitions at junior and school levels. But they also moved to USA, after getting better opportunities there.
We have corporates coming up and recognizing young talent but still a lot needs to be done for the promotion of games like basketball, hockey, and football. Government should work with the sports federations towards building world class facilities such as the state of the art gyms, coaches, physios, counselors, and nutritionists. This will not only produce world-class sportsmen but will also allow them to have a fighting chance at an international stage.