In Gurdaspur's Dera Baba Nanak village, no one bothers too much with sports. Sure, they watch cricket on their televisions and yes, there is a small volleyball court in a corner in the village. But mostly, children are encouraged to study if they want to become successful.
Princepal Singh's idea of success, though, did not involve books. He wanted to become a big volleyball player.
Yet, fate had other plans.
"Like most kids, I was always attracted to sports," Princepal tells Firstpost from Bengaluru, a day after the 17-year-old was picked for the Indian basketball team to compete at the Super Kung Sheung Cup International Basketball Invitation Championship, to be held in Hong Kong from 11-16 December. "My height also made me a good fit for a sport like volleyball. That's why when I was a teenager, I went to Ludhiana Basketball Academy to become a volleyball player."
But given his height, he was asked to try his hands at basketball instead. And something clicked.
"Maine jab shuru kiya tha, mujhe basketball ka ABC bhi nahi aata tha (When I started, I didn’t even know the language of the sport). To be honest, the first time I saw a basketball in my life was at Ludhiana Basketball Academy. No one in my village follows the sport. Or probably knows anything about the sport."
So meteoric has been Princepal's rise, that it has changed the spoken rule in his village of what it takes to be successful. He admits that after witnessing his leap, three girls and a boy from his village have also charted the same course to the Ludhiana Basketball Academy, throwing balls in graceful arcs into hoops and chasing a previously improbable basketball dream.
The 6’10” teenager got so good at Ludhiana Basketball Academy — one of the biggest cradles of the sport in India which has given the nation players like Satnam Singh Bhamara, Palpreet Singh Brar, Amritpal Singh, Arshpreet Singh Bhullar, Gurvinder Singh Gill, and Jagdeep Singh Bains — that he was soon picked for The NBA Academy India. He also made his mark at camps organised by NBA, like the Basketball Without Borders Global Camp, organised on the sidelines of the NBA All-Star 2018, Basketball Without Borders Asia 2018 at the NBA Academy India earlier this year and most recently, the NBA Global Camp 2018 held in Treviso, Italy.
The consistent performances earned him a call-up for The NBA Global Academy in Canberra, where 12 of the best elite basketball prospects hone their skills.
His daily routine at Basketball Australia’s (BA) Centre of Excellence at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) sounds gruelling: wake up at 7 am in the morning to attend school, before hitting the gym for three hours and then practising for over two hours every day. But the teenager adds that thanks to his exposure at The NBA Academy India, he is used to the rigours of professional sports, despite his young age.
Princepal added that since being picked, he has been in touch with his now India teammates like Satnam and Amjyot about what is required to represent India at the international level.
Updated Date: Dec 05, 2018 22:23:00 IST