It was in 4th standard when for the first time i saw some guys rhythmically thumping a ball on the floor and then a guy with ball, hitched up lifting their ankles in air ,making an arc like impression with his hands towards the basket hanging on a board..you know the strategy was to hit the ball within that SQUARE....and there you go , a basket !!! A sure-shot basket.
I was smitten by the act so much that i wanted to repeat it and perform it in a better way.Few days i kept circling the court watching them doing their practice but i didn't had the courage to walk over and say " i wanted to play".
Being a new kid in the school and coming from a small town Amritsar , taking admission in such a school was an all new experience.
In my school and home the only emphasis given was on scoring very good marks .Only study no play or extra-curricular activities were encouraged.No encouragement and no guts , i didn't even try to pursue my interest rather just strolled around the court like keen observer.
One day my classmates said - " we know you want to play right..so let's go to the court ".They almost dragged me to the court , i had mixed feelings both excited and nervous as to what we are gona end up being called fools.That day i saw some senior girls playing in the court 2-3 of them were there and that was like a big boost.But still a 4th std kid doesn't know how to play , soft hands can't handle that hard spiked ball.Its true before starting any sport you have to be in form that means The Stamina.
So now it was for the first time i set my footing on the cemented floor and we saw a neglected ball in the corner of the cemented floor.We picked it up and my friend told me to dribble it like this.
I tried doing the same way , the ball was really hard and rough due to small bubbles all over it and it did hurt like hell .When with intensity it hit back my hand it turned red almost mimicked impression of the bubbled texture . I couldn't dribble long and tended to my hand. Even passing the ball was not funny thing.The senior guys saw us and told us "ye bacchon k khelne ki cheez nai hai, chalo ball humein do n tum log nikal lo " That was enough to bring a dragon out of me and i fired up ,replied in similar fashion plus took the ball from him. Yeah his expression was shocked and anguished....but then who cares we got what we wanted.Now the issue was how to do it ?? A very important milestone to be achieved A HOW ?
We decided to come to court everyday in zero period and practice dribbling so that our hands get used to it.
Next day , we enter court guys watching us and shouting " Bacche yaahan allowed nai " We ignored them. The senior girls came to us and enquired as what we were doing there.After knowing that we wanted to play , they escorted us to the Coach, Mr Sharma. He asked amusingly " you girls want to play ?? " I said adamantly " YES !! "
He replied nonchalantly okay come here everyday and practice ask the seniors if any help required.His attitude was almost like making fun of us but now we will be knowing the answer to our " How ".
From that very day we religiously came in morning .As soon as we were done with attendance .We ran downstairs to the court.
Sir asked us to fetch the ball and we did. We came back he looked at us and said from tomorrow no skirts , wear shorts and wear sports shoes. I didn't had a pair of sport shoes and i knew my mom dad won't buy it until school really wants it .We had tennis shoes part of our sports period. (White canvas shoes !! How could they be apt for a game where one has to cover the court to its entire length . Anyways our school was full of retards who disliked sports by all means )
Now dressed in skirts and tennis shoes i entered court obvio i would be hearing were is your proper sports dress :P
But there is lot to deal back in class too. See changing in sports kit and then running to class would only waste lot of time. So somehow we convinced him to let us play .And he agreed.
We came to play with ball but all we ended up doing was running behind it from one end to another ,chasing it like rats, then getting hurt . The passes at times were directly on face, smashing right in the face ...ohh its dreadfully painful.We were tired , being made fun of , no one took us seriously but me and my other 2 friends didn't give up , we kept coming and playing. Our days were like The Ball Beating Us and all that running ; we were not used too ; made us tired. Our coach told us to take 10 rounds of ground as warm up everyday. 10 ROUNDS !!! Are you serious ?? Holy Shmoly no ways...
Almost everyday i was running late to school , strictly at 8:00 am the doors would shut and i stepped my foot next to gate at 8:02 am 2 min delay was like my biological clock malfunction. We had punishment for the late comers , they called us "The Defaulters ".
Okay the punishment was to take 2 rounds of the ground. I thought i have to run either way. So its okay to count them in the rounds of warm up , infact its good to be late , i can still fetch attendance saying i was late and got punishment. hahaha brilliant idea.
So running starts first two rounds were easy and breezy later , 3rd one also easy , 4th one i'm panting , struggling for air,5th one impossible to walk even and that very moment , the coach shouts " run fast you bunch of idiots" .
(hey ! are you supposed to call us that , my mind galore , koi nai tereko baad mein dekhti hun , i have a task at hand ) i said to myself.
We ran .Where ever our speed limped, his voice pitched. By the 7th round, i did hit the earth.We did not had enough energy to walk but took in the air and calmed our throttling heart.
My friend says " Son of Gun " he is .... saale ne bhagaa bhagaa maar dalna hai , game tou khilwane k iraade nai isske.
Ohh lord the stomach hurts. After half an hour we got up and went to the court and we got the ball to play.Light lazy dribbles and nothing else we could do. So , left the ball and just clumsily walked towards the bench.
Sharma Sir was not into basketball ; only the guys on the court were properly coached and the senior girls played by themselves. They began telling us how to hit, where are the pointers were and how to practice on the court. Gradually , we started playing fine.
My other friends left as they were not much interested in the game and labor work was more than anticipated.We played causally hitting the ball in basket no technical know how.But we were the only few in the name of Girl's Basketball team. We were part of team as there was not one else.We played like this till the next 3yrs.
Now school got serious towards sports next year we were supposed to be hosts of a school level tournament and school needed to know which teams we had in sports arena.
When basketball came up , only guys team was enlisted .Girls were like no where, this was unjust and my seniors were already pissed at this.So we all decided to talk to our sports head Mr Sharma again.
Sir, ko kaise b kareke convince kar lia to let us perform and play as team , he said school ki naak nai katwaani.
We said Sir ek game hojaye ?
He laughed and said girls ki team nai hai humare pass tum logon k opponent k liye...WE replied chaheye b nai Sir, boys k saath hum kheleinge.Sir was like are you girls crazy but he was very sure we can't do anything so he said " Fine ! Take your chance but baad mein ronna matt " .
We had one week time to beat the boys ; who were like far far skilled than us.It seemed impossible.But ab tou socch lia tou karke raheinge yeah that was our attitude.
In my life this game has been my mentor mentally building a stronger and combative me.
The Challenge :
Guys giggle at us and all we gave back was serious looks and frowns.
The ball was in the air and we played the way we were supposed to, guys were swift . We were not able to do better but we did the worst.They tossed us like toys and so easily they got the ball, the first half was like basket , basket and basket.We were so frustrated and tired.We lost !!
We didn't get that chance to play for school but later CHAK DE INDIA moment hua, the guys went to coach and told him ki girls mein potential hai so get them a coach , train them.
Sir did listen to them but he didn't care.
2yrs passed like this and we kept learning in court by ourselves and mostly watching guys doing it.That time i learnt what gender biased system is and what girls are thought of as.But also saw that the same guys who laughed at us now respected us , they also contributed in our learning process.
7th standard :
We had grown in number and some good players were in the team.By this time we had a serious complete team we just needed was a good coach, we knew how to play game , we were better now. But we lacked a proper mentor-ship.
Trilok Sir's Arrival :
A tall guy more than 6 feet and lean built , wavy hair, weatish complexioned.He was our new coach. He asked us to line up. All guys and girls lined up on his command.He noticed us all and later he asked guys to do a match. We again became hopeless that this new coach would be the similar one. Just guys guys n guys.
He told us to go for a warm up and take 10 rounds (by this time it was a daily routine) so it was easier to run.
We came back to court drenching in sweat in the hot weather.He asked us to do stretching and told us how many sets of each pack and no. of reps.
25 each 4 seats- squats !!! (My face was like WTF !!)
20 each 4 reps - push-ups
20 each 4 reps - bench press / press against wall
15 each 2 reps- various stretches
and now he making us mirror him and corrected us where ever we went wrong.
After doing all this all the strength was gone , and with trembling feet we climbed the to third floor. Entering the class almost exhausted and plus thing was teacher fuming at us for zero period was over an hour ago , where were you girls roaming ??
In this case my reputation in school was that of studious docile kid , homework completed and no bad habits, uniform properly tucked though after game i smelled like rat. Always humble to teachers and very obedient in class. In short serious kid.
Coaching Begins :
Now everyday we went in zero period even before that we took 20 rounds of ground, stretching and exercises for 1.5 hrs and no touching the ball or entering the court.We were getting frustrated about the new coach.Not letting us play , how will he know where we lack , why is he doing this to just us and all the questions . So went to him and told him this is not fair , we want to play.
He tossed ball at us and said go do match with boys , we were like okay fine.
Ball in air , Ruchika was always point guard and power forward , she was tallest amongst us and i was always played small forward / power forward.The ball was in our side , each one took one-one position.I made sure that ball was passed safely and secured the guarding position of my side, its a team work and we lacked that effective communication.The opponents snatched our ball , but we had a sprinter amongst us she was very fast being the shortest , she was the fastest.She breached the defence and crossed the D we ran towards the forwards , she passed us the ball and then the forwards did basket ! Yes , we did that basket ! That moment everyone was shocked what we did (guys had astonishment on their face ).
We were now bubbling with confidence and then the guys got aggressive , passes being blocked, locking us down, tossing us, we took time making that aim to basket and we were not getting it...eventually we lost !
We went to Sir and asked how we played , despite loosing we were excited for our first basket.Sir. replied you call this a game ??
This is not a game but you played like crowd , jumping on each other.That's why i don't let you play.We were very demoralised and bogged down at his remarks.He said you know why i ask you to run and do so much exercise, you know why ??
We looked puzzled at him as if he reads what we had in our mind.
He replied : Coz you all lack stamina , the game you played today has been result of your hard work you have been doing for the past week. I am appointed for the girl team as we are going to host tournament and this time its basketball tournament.
We were hell excited and joy splashed our faces coz now we had the mentor and an opportunity.Sir said i won't let you touch that ball until you exercise more.
We got his point..
He said " scout girls , make 100 sprints now !. "
" Start from that end of court " he blew his whistle.
Damn aaa what ?? 100 are you kidding ??
Obvio not , we know but not 20-30-40-50 its bloody 100 !!
Is it 100 like coming and going but inclusive or one way ??No its not one way . He was like shut up and sprint.
We ran one corner to other and at his whistles, at the length of court we were all making our sprints.I did not count coz i knew it will be a mental trauma all what we were doing was hearing his whistle as signal to go on and on.We practised a lot. Our stamina improved many folds. Trilok Sir's strategy was working.
The Tournament :
Our school invited like 10 schools. Teams crowded our sprawling playground , matches were going on and on.The 3rd day of tournament was the beginning of girl's championship. Ohh boy i was nervous , freaking out !! It's gona be our first match.I remember it was very anxiety filled day.Jammed with high spirits we entered the court .