From mud courts to indoor stadium.....
PUNJAB BASKETBALL DOWN THE AGES
By: R. S. Gill
The sport suited the agile and powerful
built punjabis who came out triumphant
in the first Championship on All India
basis, held in
in 1934 under auspices of the Indian
Olympic Association. Before
participating in the Championship, a
regular Basketball Association had been
formed with Sh. G.L. Sayal as its Hony.
continued to dominate this game and won
the top honours, when the next
Championship was held at
in 1936. The success was repeated at
Patiala in 1944.
Mr. H.B.S. Richie, an ardent lover of
the game revived Punjab Basketball
Association after partition with himself
as its Secretary and Mr. G.D. Sondhi
(the Founder of the Asian Games) as its
President. Despite various handicaps the
Association continued to send its teams
to the National Championship held at
Lucknow in 1948 and Bombay in 1950. From
1951 onwards the Basketball Federation
of India decided to make the
Championship an annual affair. Punjab
once again established its superiority
and won the Championship held at
that year. As a result of this, Punjab
players Ranbir Chopra, Dharampal Chum,
Davinder Bahri and Gur Parshad were
selected to represent
in the 1st Asian Games in 1951. Ranbir
Chopra had the distinction to lead the
Indian Team. Mr. Ashwani Kumar was
elected President of the Punjab
Basketball Association in 1952 and Mr.
R.D. Sayal became its Secretary, taking
over from Mr. H.B.S. Richie, who by then
had settled down in
The Association has since been sending
teams regularly for participation in
National championships. During the
period, Punjab produced some brilliant
players and organisers of national
standard. In 1953, when an Indian
Basketball Team was sent to
Narinder Singh and Om Parkash were
selected as its members and Mr. R.D.
Sayal, the Manager. The National Teams
of 1954 and 1955 had a good numbers of
Manjit Singh, Dharam Paul, Rameshwar Lal
and Om Parkash in 1954, and Manjit Singh
and Om Parkash in 1955.
The Secretaryship of the Association
changed hands in 1958, when Mr. Ranbir
Chopra was elected in place of Sh. R.D.
Sayal. Keen interest was created in
1958, when Mr. Ashwini Kumar IPS,
President of the National Basketball
Assoc., decided to hold the National
Basketball Championship at Patiala. The
high standard of organisation set at
Patiala has not since been touched at
any other centre. The All Star teams of
India, selected by the Federation in
1956-57 included Om Parkash, Manjit
Singh and Surinder Puri, in 1957-58
Manjit Singh, in 1958-59 Manjit Singh,
in 1959-60, Gurdas Ram, Sardari Lal and
Surinder Puri. In 1959, Mr. Ranbir
Chopra was elected as Vice-President of
the Basketball Federation of India. In
1960-61, Gurdas Ram of Punjab was
selected as a member of All India Team
and in 1961-62, Sardari Lal & Joginder
Singh Jogi got the distinctions. Mr.
Ranbir Chopra was the Coach of the
Indian Team, which participated in the
Quadrangular Tournament in Lahore in
1962. Gurdas Ram, Joginder Jogi,
Manmohan Singh and Pritam Singh were
also the members of the Indian Team to
the Asian Basketball Championship.
Manmohan Singh of Ludhiana was selected
for several other international meets
and was honoured with the Arjuna Award.
Gurpreet Bajwa was the Vice-Captain of
the Indian women’s Team, which
participated in the Asian Championship
held at Kuala Lumpur. Mr. Ranbir Chopra
resigned from the Secretaryship in 1963
and Mr. Rajinder Bhanot took over the
charge of Secretary for a number of
Kapurthala was the nursery of Basketball
As soon as Sh. R.D. Trikha took over the
charge of Distt. Basketball Association,
Ludhiana, his teams made a history in
the Punjab Basketball Association and he
produced a number of International and
All Star Players in Men, Boys as well as
in Women Section. Sh. R.D. Sayal and Sh.
Amarjit Singh were two International
State. Punjab Basketball story of that
period will not be complete without
mentioning the names of some enthusiast
lovers of the game. They are Sh. Kishore
Lal Khanna, Sh. Milkhi Ram, Rattan, Mr.
D.C. Bhala, Sh. Om Parkash Mehra and Sh.
R.D. Trikha. From Rajinder Bhannot, Sh.
Gulab Singh Chaudhary took over the
charge as Secretary, for a year. After
bifurcation of Punjab and Haryana, Sh.
Gulab Singh Chaudhry handed over the
charge to Sh. Mohinder Singh. After a
years time, he left for a foreign
country on coaching assignment. Sh. R.D.
Trikha took over the charge of Secretary
and Sh. J.S. Bawa, IPS, Director
Punjab as its President. After two years Sh.
Bawa left for higher studies in
America and handed over the charge to Sh.
Krishan Kumar, IPS. Later a fresh
election of office bearers was held and
Sh. K.S. Bains, IAS, was elected
President and Sh. R.D. Trikha as Hony.
Punjab Basketball Association.
The 70s saw the emergence of Anil Punj
and Hari Singh Sidhu, both of whom
played for India in the ABC as well as
other internationals. Anil Punj brought
more honour to Punjab when he was
awarded the Arjuna Award. In 1978, Sh.
Avinash Maini was elected the Secretary
of the Punjab Basketball Association.
His tenure saw the emergence of a group
of highly talented women players Suman
Sharma, Sumati Dhawan, Suman Sood,
Sarita Shamra, Ashi Sharma, Gurimran
Laddi, Kiranjit Bittu, Kulwinder Kang,
Kawaljit Baath, Rajinder Kaur and Rimpy
Dhillon. They swept Punjab to 6
consecutive triumphs in the Nationals
from 1978 to 1983 The team was runner-up
in 1984 and winner again in 1987. All
the above mentioned represented India in
the Asian Basketball Championships and 6
of them played in the Asian Games too.
Suman Sharma and Kawaljit Baath were the
most outstanding Indian women players of
the 1980s and Suman Sharma became the
first woman to be honoured with the
Arjuna Award. Among the men, Paramdeep
Singh Teja, Baldev Singh, Mandar Singh,
Sajjan Singh Cheema, Kuldeep Singh
Cheema, Sham Lal, Ajit Kumar, Paramjit
Singh and Amritpal Singh were the
outstanding players of the 80s.
Paramdeep and Baldev were members of the
first Indian Team to play in the
Olympics in 1980 at Moscow. Mandar Singh
participated in the 1982 Asian Games and
all the rest in various ABCs and
international test matches. The Men's
team won the National Title in 1984 at
Cuttack. Another first was achieved by
Sh. Joginder Singh Jogi who was
appointed as the coach of the Indian
women's team. He had that position for
several years. During those years the
junior boys and girls also made a mark
on the national scene. Sh. Satish Kumar,
Sh. Sham Lal and Sh. Manjit Singh were
the other coaches of distinction.
In 1991, there were fresh elections to
the State Association and Sh. Rajdeep
Singh Gill, IPS took over as President
with Sh. Teja Singh Dhaliwal as the
Secretary. Since then, the game has been
spread out all over the state specially
in the rural areas. The old nurseries of
Kapurthala, Ludhiana and Kot Kapura for
Men and Amritsar and Jalandhar for women
continued to hold good but new centers
have sprang up in Ropar, Patiala, Mansa,
Gurdaspur, Mukatsar etc. The Association
became more motivated and every official
and coach started contributing their
best. The Men's teams improved in a big
way and won the National title in 1994
at Ludhiana, 1995 at Jamshedpur and were
second in 1996 at
They again emerged Champions in 1997 at
Jaipur and also annexed the National
Games titles at
in 1997 and Ludhiana in 2001. Parminder
(Sr.), Parminder Singh (Jr.), Vipan
Kumar, Gagnesh Kumar and Tejinderjit
Singh were regular members of the
National Team for ABCs as well as
internationals in the 1990s . Parminder
Singh (Sr.) and Gagnesh Kumar both
captained the national team. Basketball
got a big boost when Sajjan Singh Cheema
and Parminder Singh (Sr.) were selected
for the prestigious Arjuna Award.
The women did not do as well in the 90s
as in the 80s, but still figured in 5
finals in the nationals, losing each
time to the Railways. Sadly due to
non-availability of employment in the
state for women, the talent was
regularly picked up by the Railways thus
weakening the state team. Harpreet Matta,
Rajwant Kaur, Parminder jit Kaur and
Prabhjot Kaur Gill have been the Punjab
women in the national teams of the
1990s. The Juniors and Sub-Junior teams
improved their position and won numerous
national titles in the 1990s. Sh.
Jaswinder Singh, IPS, Sh. Yurinder
Singh, PPS, Sh. Dinkar Gupta, IPS, Sh.
Satish Sharma, IPS, Manpreet Singh Badal
and Sh. Sajjan Singh Cheema were the
main promoters and developers of the
game. Sh. Yashvir Walia and Sh. Buta Ram
of Kapurthala were international umpires
of repute and thus a pride for Punjab.
The outstanding organisers of the state
in this decade were Sh. Teja Singh
Dhaliwal, Sh. Yashvir Walia, Sh. Darshan
Singh Sandhu, Sh. P.S. Noorpuri, Sh.
Gurjant Singh, Sh. B.M. Bali, Sh. R.D.
Singh and Sh. Balkar Singh Brar. The
coaches who played a major role in the
teams were Sh. Joginder Jogi, Sh.
Paramdeep Singh Teja, Sh. Anil Punj, Sh.
Satish Kumar, Sh. R.D. Singh, Sh. Manjit
Singh, Sh. Gurdas Ram, Sh. Davinder
Singh, Sh. Mandeep Singh, Sh. Kanwarjit
Singh, Sh. Ramesh Kalley and Dr. S.
Punjab Basketball started from mud
courts in the 1930s, got its first brick
courts at Kapurthala and
in the 1950s and got its first cemented
courts in 1969 in Guru Nanak Stadium,
Ludhiana. It constructed its first
exclusive Basketball Stadium (3
courts-all flood lit with fiber glass
boards) in G.N. Sports Complex in 1982
and finally got its own Indoor
Basketball Stadium at
in 2001. The 21st century saw
a number of Indoor Stadiums and cemented
Floodlit counts being constructed all
over the state. In 2010 the Guru Nanak
Basketball Indoor Stadium was enlarged
and fitted with maple wood flooring.
A major progress was made when the State
Association established the Ludhiana
Basketball Academy in Guru Nanak
Basketball Indoor Stadium Ludhiana in
2003, with Dr. S. Subramanian as
Director. This Academy selected tall
young talented players for continuous
all year training. It became first a
centre for excellence and then the
backbone of the State’s teams. Within a
short time it had produced outstanding
internationals like Jagdeep Singh,
Yadwinder Singh, Talwinderjit Singh,
Kiranjit Kaur, Kanwaljit Kaur, Harjit
Kaur, Snehpal Singh, Dilawar Singh,
Amayjot Singh, Sukhvir Singh Dhillon,
Amritpal Singh, Satnam Singh Bhamra etc.
The Academy was initially sponsored by
Sh. Harjinder Singh Dhanoa and later by
Sh. Jagjit Singh Noni, both N.R.I.s.
During the last 10/12 years
Punjab has consistently done well in the
Men’s/Boy’s section. They won the
National Games in
Ludhiana in 2001 and Ranchi in 2011 as
well as the National Championship in
Chennai in 2011. The junior team,
coached by Sh. Ramesh Kalley, won the
national title for 5 consecutive years.
The sub-junior and youth teams also
excelled. The Women’s/Girls’ teams did
not perform that well due to lack of
height. Jagdeep Singh, Yadwinder Singh
and Talwinderjit Singh were regular
member of the Indian teams in the Asian
Games, Commonwealth Games and the Asian
Basketball Championships of the 2000s.
Kiranjeet and Kanwajit were also
internationals of repute. Amayjot,
Amaritpal and Satnam are the future of
Sh. Teja Singh Dhaliwal, Sh. Yurinder
Singh, Sh. Rakesh Agrawal, Dr. Karamjit
Singh, Sh. Vijay Singla, Sh. Vijay
Chopra, Sh. Balkar Singh Brar, Ms.
Surinder Dhir, Sh. Sajjan Singh Cheema
and Sh.Darshan Singh Sandhu were the
main organisers of the last decade. Sh.
H.S. Dhanoa, Sh. Jagjit Singh
Noni, Dr. Karamjit Singh, Sh. Rajinder
Gupta and Sh. Nirmal Singh Bhangu the
main sponsors. Dr. S. Subramanian, Sh.
Ramesh Kalley, Sh. Ashwani Kumar, Sh.
Harjinder Singh, Sh. Davinderpal Singh,
Sh. Kanwarjit Singh, Sh. Gursharanjit
Singh. Sh. Jagsir Puri, Sh. Paramjit
Singh Sh. Ashwani Kumar (Jr.) were the
main coaches of the state teams in the
2000s. Sh. Amarjot Singh the most
outstanding international refree of the
last decade brought great honour to the
country and state when he became the
first Indian referee to officiate in the
Asian Championship finals at Wuhan in
2011. Satnam Singh, at the age of 15
yrs, became the youngest player to
represent India in the ABC Team in 2011.
Satnam has also been elected for
advanced training at the NBA Academy at
Florida, USA. Dr. S. Subramanian the
untiring brilliant trainer contributed 6
members to the Indian Men’s Basketball
team at the 2011 ABC at Wuhan China: a
most incredible achievement !
Punjab’s excellent administration was
recogonised when Sh. R.S. Gill, was
unanimously elected as the President of
the Basketball Federation of India in
2003. He was again unanimously elected
in 2007 and 2011 respectively. In 2011
Sh. Teja Singh Dhaliwal was also
unanimously elected as Vice President of
the Basketball Federation of India: For
the first time ever Punjab had two
officials in the highest echelons of the
B.F.I.─ a tribute to its untiring and dedicated leadership.
Punjab has great talent while the
physique and temperament of its people
is ideal for Basketball. What is
required for the future is sponsorship,
employment and more indoor stadiums to
Punjab on the Asian Map.