Neehara in search of her roots

While many of the girls here are keen to follow Geethu Anna Jose and play for an Australian club, Neehara Ravikumar, who has Indian roots and plays for an Australian basketball team, hopes to play for the Indian national team some day.

Australian basketball team Ringwood Hawks' young star Neehara Ravikumar, who hopes to play for India one day, with her head coach Tim Mottin in Kochi on Saturday evening.   -  Stan Rayan

Her parents are from Sri Lanka and her grandparents have Indian roots. “But I’m more of an Indian,” said Neehara Ravikumar who has come with the Australian basketball team Ringwood Hawks, for the five-match series against Kerala All Stars which begins at the Rajiv Gandhi indoor stadium here on Sunday night.

While many of the girls here are keen to follow Geethu Anna Jose and play for an Australian club, Neehara hopes to play for the Indian national team some day. “Yes, that’s deep in my mind and I’ve been following Indian basketball a little bit, I know that you have qualified for the Division ‘A’ in FIBA Asia Championship, that’s huge,” said the 19-year-old college student who hails from Melbourne.

READ: Jeena, Shireen keen to catch Hawks’ eye

But the Indian Government does not allow players with dual citizenship in its national team and Neehara is aware that it could be big hurdle. “I think it’s tough because India does not allow dual citizenship…it’s a tough situation to be in.”

And now that she is here, Neehara, who also speaks Tamil, is keen to dig into her roots. “Now that I’m here, I might as well find out more about it,” she said.

GOOD NEWS FOR INDIANS

Meanwhile Tim Mottin, the Hawks head coach, had some good news for the Indians. “If I find someone good enough here, I will recruit her into my team. And if I thought there was some talent, and we also have restrictions on the number of foreign players  in our team, I would probably help them find opportunities in some other professional teams,” said Mottin.

Mottin, who was also the coach of the Hawks during Geethu’s three seasons with the team, is keen to have a look at Indian star P.S. Jeena. “I think Jeena looks quite impressive, she has had some good results and there are two other girls…I want to see how they play.”