NAGPUR: For international women hoopsters studying abroad on scholarship, their fathers have been the first coach, unsung yet no less than a professional coach.
The pandemic has given them an opportunity to be home on Father’s Day. This promising bunch of girls told TOI about their fathers’ impact on their game.
Karnataka’s Sanjana Ramesh – who is the second Indian-born female player to receive a Division-I basketball scholarship in the US – said her father has “always been supportive”. After leading the Indian U-16 side at the FIBA Asia Cup, Sanjana made a mark in the grassroot activities organized by the National Basketball Association (NBA) in India. The NBA scouts helped Sanjana realize her dream and she is currently studying at the North Arizona University in the US.
Sanjana said, “My dad plays a very supportive role in my sport. Though he’s been a spectator in sport but he is an avid reader of events and biography. He would help me by telling important values any sport can bring and how it can help in character building. He tells me which exercises to follow to de-stress yourself during difficult times. He helped me on how to balance both education and sports.”
She added, “I am so grateful and feel very privileged to get the support, facilities, opportunities and everything my father gave. I don’t think I would be in this position without the support from my parents. I am very thankful for all these.”
Harsimran Kaur of Kapurthala, Punjab, has basketball in her genes. With father Sukhdev a basketball cager himself and mother a volleyball player, the sport came naturally to Harsimran. She represented India in multiple events and became first female player from NBA Academies Women’s Program to be invited to The NBA Global Academy.
She wants to assure her father of “making him more proud one day” and said, “Just keep supporting and encouraging me and I will promise to do whatever it take for me to be a better person not only a good player. I will become a good person in life like you and won’t ever let you down.”
Aurangabad’s Khushi Dongre is currently studying at ASA College, Miami, on a NBA scholarship. She feels her father Sanjay is “like a trunk to a tree and an integral part to my life.”
Khushi added, “My father is a sports lover and has been with me through thick and thin. My dad is not just my dad he is my best friend with whom I can share anything literally and he is always there for me no matter what I do.”
Khushi had a father’s day message. She said, “Hey dad it’s so old fashion saying thank you for everything you have done for me, so in few words ‘ pappa tussi great ho taufa kabool karo.’ You are the best dad in this world thank you for everything you have been doing for me. I wouldn’t be able to repay you but I promise to never hurt you. You are best and you will be the best.”
Punjab’s Asmat Kaur Taunque played for Maharashtra I the youth national championships of the Basketball Federation of India (NFI). She is currently studying at the Lawrenceville School Team in New Jersey.
Asmat said, “My father, Dharamjeet Taunque, has been the greatest influencer of my life. My best memories with him include playfully fighting and wrestling – which we still do. He taught me that when you love someone, you can playfully punch them as a form of apology. Jokes apart, I truly think that my dad is the best father in the world and I feel blessed to have such a hardworking, honest, kind, and super-fun person as my father.”
She added, “He is the perfect balance of fun and dependable, calm and is energetic. My dad is the one who pushed me to pursue basketball and constantly encouraged me to be confident and live life to the fullest. My dad and mom should be given the full credit for who I am today. My father has been my guiding light in dark times, and my best buddy to have fun with.”