On May 15th we went to print with a story about Satnam Singh, India’s first player to make the NBA draft, the story (please read it here if you missed it) got an amazing response, so many people emailed us and got in touch to see if we could touch base with Satnam and see how the story had moved on and if he has had any support in India. So we did just that, check out the exclusive interview with Satnam Singh here (Massive shout to Gurps Dhaliwal for sorting the Interview out, respect), and then the updates below the video (Satnam’s views have been translated from Punjabi to English)
When we caught up with Satnam he was in Ludhiana getting ready for India’s forthcoming World Cup Qualifiers, the weird thing about this was, he was training alone, no supervision, no coaches, nothing:
Satnam: This is it, this is my training camp, no coaches, no finances, nothing, I’m training myself and paying my own expenses, I want to make India proud of basketball, but I feel that other people who back other sports, do not want Basketball to be a success.
India is a Cricket/Hockey nation, do people who back those sports really see Basketball as a threat?
Satnam: Basketball will never be as big as Cricket or Hockey in India. The Govt, and governing bodies just do not care, they have not set up leagues, no infrastructure, nothing, all funding goes towards other sports, yet NBA is on TV in India, and get’s good figures. I just can’t understand how nothing is being put in place, yet we are sent to major tournaments to play like the Commonwealth/Asian games, it feels like it is purely because other countries are also sending teams, so we will to.
India lost every game they played in the Commonwealth games, I can see why now
Satnam: We can not train together, we have no coaches, nothing, I train alone in a place I pay for, I am not the only one who is doing this, other players are in the same boat, we have no support. The NBA were extremely happy when I got drafted, doors were opened to a massive new market, 1.2 billion people, the NBA were so excited.
Yet, all they were met with was closed doors, they tried to push basketball via various avenues throughout India, with me being to the fore, to put in some sort of infrastructure, yet other sport franchise owners and funder party’s never let this happen.
We are not surprised by this, did you get any support from India once drafted?
Satnam: Nothing, it was like I was dis-guarded and left to fend for myself, India has other minority sports that get great coverage, but me, I was left out to dry, would it be different if I was not the son of a Sardar from Punjab? Who knows
The feeling we got when talking and by being around Satnam was one of anger, he feels he has been let down, when he first got drafted, Satnam wanted to set up more basketball courts around India, with a league and try and grow the sport, with the help of the NBA, very similar to how China used Yao ming’s success to push the game within his home country.
Cricket is big money in India, yet even sports like Boxing are getting good coverage, without any kind of super stars. Vejinder Singh has chased boxing glory with a very dodgy reputation, and has still managed to attract more Govt funding than Satnam. Cricket is King in India we all know that, it is such a shame that the Govt. could not recognise Satnam and use him as a catalyst to grow a sport that already has a growing number of fans in India.
Any businesses or people interested in helping funding Satnam as he tries to steer India to a World Cup/Asian Cup glory please get in-touch and we will forward your details on to Satnam.
Satnam has agreed to keep us posted about India’s forthcoming games, and let’s hope him and India get through the qualifiers and gather some momentum to show the Govt. that the sport does need some funding and guidance. Here’s hoping anyway.