Raspreet Sidhu dons many roles, but nothing could stop the 33-year-old from being at her best and guiding the young Delhi women’s team to a bronze medal at the National Basketball Championship in Udaipur recently.
The Head of Sports for Shiv Nadar Schools, Raspreet led by example, as she scored a whopping 212 points in seven matches, 22 being the least against Odisha, and the highest 43 against Tamil Nadu in quarterfinals.
“The dream was to take Delhi to the medal this time. I believed in it. The challenge was to make the young girls believe. It took me some time, but we did it. Very happy to achieve this for Delhi,” said Raspreet, with pride, of a job well accomplished.
Representing Delhi, right from the sub-junior national level, Jaspreet has four gold, eight silver and six bronze medals in her collection from the various National championships. The latest one was the most special for her.
“We could have made the final, but ran into Railways in the semifinals. We lost to Kerala (in the group stage) by three points and that virtually cost us a final berth,” said Raspreet, who took a pain killer following a quad injury, to guide the team to victory in the match for third place against Karnataka.
“I was the oldest player in the youngest team. We had players in the 18-22 age group. A lot of good players had left together and that had created a void,” pointed out Raspreet, who did not play the semifinals against Railways owing to the torn quad.
Raspreet is happy to groom the youngsters. It was this urge to work with young players and give them a strong foundation that forced her to take up her role with the Shiv Nadar Schools, after being the youngest Assistant Professor in Miranda House and Mata Sundari College.
“I feel that I am in the right place, doing right things. What we learn in school, stays with us for life. I started playing basketball in sixth grade. Now we have under-8 and under-10 teams,” said Raspreet.
She has lot of ideas for the development of Indian women’s basketball, but strongly feels that there should be more job opportunities for women basketball players, and possibly a State could adopt basketball, like the way Odisha has helped Indian hockey.
Raspreet is thrilled that the under-17 boys team qualified for the 3x3 World Cup for the first time this year, with the Asian silver medal. “The future is bright for Indian basketball,” she said.
The 33-year-old almost drew curtains to her playing career before her family motivated to stick to the sport.
“When I was about to give up, it was my husband who believed in me. He wakes me up at 4.30 every morning, so that we train for a few hours before going to work,” said Raspreet.
At one stage of her career, Raspreet was representing the country simultaneously in the under-18, under-21 and women’s events. She was able to juggle between academics and playing, and managed an English degree from the St. Stephen’s College before completing graduation and post graduation courses at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Physical Education and Sports Sciences.
“When I went for competition during school years, my father used to slip the maths and science books in my bag, subtly stressing the importance of education,” Raspreet recalled.
“We have another Shiv Nadar School coming up soon in Chennai,” said Raspreet who heads a total sports staff of 40.
A regular in the national team over the years, she represented the country in the Redbull 3x3 World Final this year, where the team lost to host Egypt in the pre-quarterfinals.
Raspreet has competed in three Asian Games apart from the Commonwealth Games in 2018. She is also a television expert, commenting on basketball, including the NBA matches.