She is one of the five sisters from the Singh family who have not only been graced with a beautiful face, but also the hooping skills to display on the basketball courts. Prashanti Singh, who has the honour of leading India on many occasions, is one of the players who have been placed in the ''A'' grade category by BFI.
Currently busy practising at the on-going India camp in the city, Boskey (as she is popularly known), talks to Akshi Aggarwal of Indian Sports News about her perspective on the growth of basketball in India and the commercial movie she has been signed for. Excerpts:
ISN: Why did you choose this sport, knowing that basketball was not the masses’ choice?
Prashanti: I belong to Varanasi, where most of the children play outdoor games for fun and I was one of them. I saw my sisters playing basketball in school and got motivated by them. Before that, like all children I loved playing hide and seek.
ISN: Tell us about your early days when you were just a beginner…
Prashanti: My first ever basketball tournament was an Under-14 event. I didn''t get much chance to play in that game but I learnt a lot. I was youngest in the team and scored two baskets, which made me happy. I''m fortunate enough to have Amarjeet Singh as my coach. For those two baskets he treated me with sweets. He is my first coach and the person behind molding many basketball talents in India.
ISN: What was the break-through point of your career?
Praashanti: Moving from Varanasi to Delhi was a milestone of my career. Though Varanasi is best place for learning basics, but Delhi is the place where I got advanced knowledge and training of about the game after joining MTNL team. They sponsored me as well. From 2002 to 2011, I grew as a professional player. This phase was important as I saw different people, places and situations. Had a rough phase with injuries and a great time winning medals. One of the memorable moments was winning medal in Vietnam for India under my captainship.
ISN: How was the experience of your first international break?
Prashanti: I played my first international tournament when I played Chinese Taipei in 2002. That was my first international exposure. I never thought I that I’ll get a chance to play in senior team so early and this turn reserved my place in senior team for Asian Basketball Championship, Japan 2003.
ISN: Your views on the introduction of foreign coaches to the training camp?
Prashanti: It is the need of the hour. Basketball is played officially in 273 countries in the world, which is the second highest in the world. In the west, the game is already at a much higher level. So to catch up with the same pace, we need better coaching and advanced training. The coaches who are now working with us have fair knowledge about the game and can take us to the next level.
ISN: Today there is a pool of talented youngsters on the Indian Basketball circuit. Do you think the young guns will take over from the senior players in the time to come?Prashanti: Youth participation is always beneficial. It gives a boost to the team. Any team which is blend of vigour and experience will perform better. I m very confident about young talent of the team and they are definitely going to take this game to next level in upcoming few years.
ISN: You have a fairly good fan following. How do you manage the fame?
Prashanti: I try my level best to live upto my fans and well wishers’ expectations. My job is to give my 100 per cent to the game. I''m really thankful to people who supports me in my good or bad times.
ISN: What is the present status of the commercial movie on basketball you were involved with?
Prashanti: Right now I''m preparing for some tournaments. But you''ll get to see me on big screen very soon.
ISN: What’s next?
Prashanti: These days we are training with Pete Gaudet, and Zak Penwell. And I''m hoping to get good results as I am working hard.
ISN: Your message for all the basketball lovers.
Prashanti: Keep playing basketball and enjoy it to the fullest. That is the best we all can do from our end. Cagers Rocks!