Satnam Singh Bhamara struggles for visa to play in Canada league

The first Indian-born player to be drafted by an NBA team, Satnam Singh's career didn't take off as he would have liked.

India's Satnam Singh is fighting to realise his dream of playing in the NBL.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Basketball spotlight reached out for 7'2" Satnam Singh Bhamara in 2015. He became the first Indian-born player to be drafted by an NBA (National Basketball Association) team, when he was picked up by the Dallas Mavericks’ affiliate the Texas Legends. His career, however, did not take off as he would have liked and he returned to India after having played 27 games over a span two years, averaging 7.1 minutes per game.

At 22, age is on his side and he dreams of a return to the NBA and American shores, but that's a fair way off. For now, it's destination Canada, he is struggling for visa approval, while trying to resurrect his career.  

In September, St John's Edge, a basketball club in Canada, announced signing Satnam for the upcoming season of the National Basketball League (NBL).

Read: Satnam keen to bounce back in Indian circuit

Satnam was supposed to join his team at training camp, which started on November 1, but is stuck in India, waiting for the work visa. He has put out several messages on various social media platforms. On October 29, he tagged External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in a tweet, requesting her for help in procuring the visa.

Waiting for the visa to come through, he admits to be "extremely" tense. "My stress level is very high. I just want to get the visa as soon as possible. I was asked to report by November 4. My team in Canada is trying its best to speed up the process, but it would be great if the sports minister or someone from the central government can put in a word," he told Sportstar over phone.

Read: Satnam signs to play in NBL Canada league

A person close to Satnam, who declined to be named, said, "Many people are trying to help him, but the process takes time. Since he is from a remote village in Punjab, it took us some time to ready his documents. We are adhering to all the rules and are hoping that he is able to leave as soon as possible."

The Canadian embassy's media relations team in Delhi did not respond to mails and calls for comment.   

Before signing with St John's Edge, Satnam played in United Basketball Alliance (UBA), the first men's professional basketball league in India, season 5.