Varanasi rules India’s Basketball court too!!! - The story of Divya Singh of famous ‘Singh Sisters’
Gauri Shankar Singh
21st July , 1982
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Proudly says ‘imd1’ for
Basketball - Sports
Inspired by her sister, Divya Singh entered the world of basketball and is now amongst the best players in India! Divya Singh, the former Indian Basketball Team Captain has many feathers over her cap. One can only sit in awe of the passion driven basketball player who is now coaching aspirants of this game. Divya has been the youngest to coach the Team who represented India at the Asian Games and has worked with all the foreign coaches who came to India for Asian Games.
Team imd1 had a chance to know this champion better. Read on to know her story!
We are really keen to know, how did your journey begin?
I hail from Varanasi and my mother, unlike most parents from the city, was very supportive in whatever we pursued as kids. She would always encourage us to take up things that we were passionate about. My father had a transferable job and would travel across different cities. To pass time during evenings, I used to go and watch my sister playing basketball in the nearby alley. That led me to an inclination towards basketball. I started dribbling with the ball and started training for it too. My sister was a part of the school basketball team and as a result of which I too developed a liking towards the game. Her coach saw potential in me as well and under his guidance, I started getting trained for the game.
Quote for Life
Don’t let difficulties destroy you, let difficulties know you are difficult to be destroyed!
Late Harish Sharma (Former Sec. General BFI (Basketball Federation of India), Matthew Robinson - Professor at UD (University of Delaware), Amarjeet Singh - Coach and my Parents
Food I Love
I have a sweet tooth for all Indian sweets, love gorging on Ras Malai and Ghevar
Food I Hate
Had I not been Basketball player then...
An Artist (Musician, Dancer or Painter)
Like Vacations at
Hill Stations, Himachal Pradesh. I love places that have a spiritual connect to them
Favorite Past time
Video games, Clash of Clans is current pass time
‘Bhokal mat maaro’. it’s a Varanasi slang
Pink, Rang de Basanti, Devdas
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Vidyut Jamwal
What’s your success mantra?
The only mantra I live by and strongly believe in is that Passion drives success. If you are passionate about what you are doing, then success will attract itself.
What were the hardships / hurdles you encountered and the way you overcame in your journey?
The hardships did come in the initial phase. While I was at school, things were easy. But the end of school days left me clueless on how to proceed further. Filling of forms for national level games, or the procedure to apply for open games was all unclear. All these minor hitches bothered me. But I was fortunate to get support from my coach Amarjeet Sir who helped me sail through and helped my parents to understand the proceedings. Also, while practicing for the game, the boys would tease us. Amarjeet Sir would help us deal with that and encourage me by saying not to pay heed to such comments and to always stay focused. I am grateful to him for all his assistance and guidance in my journey.
Success is incomplete without its share of failures. How should one overcome them to move on?
I wouldn’t say failure but yes as a growing child I was malnourished and lack of a balanced diet would hamper my stamina too. When I went for training at the national basketball campus, people around were so fit and due to my negligence, my overall health deteriorated which also resulted in lack of self confidence. Not that I was bad at my game, but the strength the game required could not be fulfilled by my improper diet. I then spoke to my coach and it was his sheer support that helped me. I stood strong and eventually improved my diet and consequently the game improved as well as my self confidence.
Do you think Basketball and its learnings can be helpful in life even if one does not want to consider it as a career goal?
Definitely! All games have some correlation in our lives. I feel ring games most importantly teach you teamwork and that is vital in any career you choose. It helps you to come to terms with dealing with all sorts of people you might engage with in life. You learn the knack of achieving things in line with others. It teaches you to manage different emotions and stick together with others to attain your goal. It teaches you to be humble. It imbibes you with leadership qualities which help you in all spheres of life.
Who has been your influencer in this journey & how?
My parents, my coach and professors have been my biggest influencers. Further, my friend Anuj Choudhary has been by my side through thick and thin. A few years ago, I was at my lowest in terms of some events that led to a major impact on my game. And he was there to support me and believe in me when I too didn"t believe myself.
Which was “that” moment when you considered yourself as “I am the 1”?
It was when I became captain of the Indian team in 2006, that’s when I really felt “I am the One!” It was a nostalgic moment for me. After getting into coaching, things have been different as it’s a lot more than just being a captain. You need to take care of the players, their diet, health, training et al! A coach is never off duty! But the experience was worth when my team won the Mahindra NBA (National Basketball ssociation) championship. My sisters too were part of the team, and it was a proud moment for me, as a coach and a player.
Did you get any formal training and how was that journey?
Our Indian campuses are well equipped with good facilities, good training, ambience and provide for the best in terms of helping a sportsperson. I got to experience that with my training, as I was given the best amenities and coaching which motivated me to better my game and helped me a lot. The change from earlier approach to this new modern age progress in Indian Sports Association has been phenomenal and I was happy to be part of living the change in the campuses from 2000-2008, where both, me and the federation were working towards progress. The entire learning process has been blissful and the credit goes to the then Secretary General of our federation who happened to implement his vision of the change in the sports arena.
Could you reflect on the importance of systematic training in Basketball?
Yes, systematic training is essential in basketball or any sport for that matter. For instance, considering the time when I was training, despite everything available, there was still something that was lacking. It was only when I went to study sports management at UD; that I realized the essence of knowing things about Basketball. These days, things are going great with the scenario of exchange students and coaches from another country whose expertise in the field is there to help you.
What are the pre-coaching essentials e.g. Right age, mindset or any other?
The only pre coaching essential is having zest for the game. Having said that, the caliber and stamina of a player also matters. Since basketball is a technical game, you cannot play it whenever you wish to. The training should ideally begin at a right age. Kids are very unpredictable with their choices until they hit adolescence. They might like playing one sport as a toddler but may soon lose interest and develop a passion for other. So, it’s a very dicey situation. But as parents, you must keep a close eye on the liking of your child’s choices and not force them upon to play a sport because that will kill their morale and hence affect their game too. Once the kid is certain of his/her choice, then they will automatically give cent percent to the game and work harder for it.
Technology and scientific training has been changing the way people get trained in Basketball. What’s your take?
Technology certainly is helping us a lot. Talking of the time when I started training, there were gaps in terms of systems, knowledge and access which have now been bridged with technology. Today, when I am coaching students in batches it really helpful when we make videos of the practice sessions and watch it for reference and strategize our game. The advanced players of NBA and NIFA are pro at their techniques which we in India are yet to learn. But with the boon of technological advancement, it is fetching us good revenues in terms of learning the right mode of training for players. We are soon planning to have our own league of players for school and college which will be organized by BIPA - Basketball India Players Association in the coming months. Selection will be at school, state and national level respectively. BIPA has been formed to give maximum benefits to players by giving them the best platform to showcase their talent. I am really happy to be a part of the BIPA Core Team! Technology has bought the game in our hands and with its aid, it only gets better!
How can one select an ideal ‘Guru’ for getting formal training for Basketball?
There are no prerequisites that one holds for an ideal Guru [laughs]. Personally, I did not even select a coach to myself. In fact, my coach Amarjeet Sir selected me while I was dribbling for my recreational purpose. It was he, who saw caliber in me. Also, as a coach one needs to be patient and cool headed with kids. As kids are bound to repeat mistakes, it is these mistakes that will help them improve as players. I guess I was fortunate to have found an ideal mentor in Amarjeet Sir. For others, if you don’t see yourself or your game improving in a span of a year, you need to change the coach!!!
What according to you can be a scope for improvement in training for Basketball in India?
Times are changing and hence the scope for improvement is getting wider. In the past few years, there has been drastic change in the approach towards basketball. Nowadays, expert coaches around the world come to train our students in camps. FIBA (International Basketball Federation) too is supporting us enhance the game and spread it across in our country. Things are changing gradually. There has been a consistency in change and it needs to be applauded.
What do you suggest for better accessibility of Basketball in remote parts of India?
There is accessibility of Basketball in remote areas but there is lack of facilities. We really need more institutes in India that look after the players. Here, we only have SAI (Sports Authority of India) which is working at the roots whereas in US and other parts there is a team of caretakers of the players. Here, we only have coaches who can coach for the game but they aren’t trainers to physically train us or physiotherapists to help us medical injury. Most players in the Indian Basketball team are from small towns, because they are passionate and focused but due to lack of good facilities available to them, we are losing out on talent.
In your opinion, what are the basic key traits apart from formal training that make “imd1”?
The key trait that sets apart a great player from an average player is their focus on the game. Rest is secondary. It is not necessary that if a player is loud and aggressive, he is a good player. There are understated players who are pretty good at their games. My sister Akanksha is one amongst them! Like they say you don’t judge a book by its cover, similarly one’s attitude or personality can never define their brilliancy in their game!
Your piece of advice to parents and new generation especially when some people are skeptical about career in extra curriculum.
Parents need not be skeptical about their child’s future in sports. Today, kids are more prone to health related issues as these smartphones are leading them to laziness. More than career, playing a sport is vital to be healthy and active. It also teaches children discipline and accelerates their mind and body growth. For every child to be hale and hearty, it is important to eradicate the lethargic attitude and encourage physical activities for their long term benefits.
How can one identify and encourage talent in the family?
Identifying talent isn’t very difficult, because the child shows those traits of dedication, passion and focus towards his/her interest very naturally. Only thing needed is that push in the right direction that will help them go a long way.
One thing which you feel you want to change from the past while you walk down memory lane…
I think it would be my sleeping habits. I have been surviving on very less sleep, which tends to make me vulnerable at times and becomes very frustrating. Apart from this trouble, I have no regrets! It’s all good in the hood so far!!!