Interview with TJ Sahi: "Most of the players dont reveal their problems out of fear"
Talwinder Singh Sahi established himself as one of the best point guards and was even voted as the Best Point Guard of Asia in 2004 and went on to win many other awards like the Top Scorer at the Basketball without Borders tournament in Beijing in 2005 and was also part of the Indian team at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006.
However, despite an impressive beginning, the 28-year-old has now faded away from the basketball scene and in an interview to Sportskeeda, vented out his frustration and put forth a humble request from his side to everyone.
1.Can you please reiterate to us, the sort of problems you have encountered from the association?
It is not only me who has faced problems every player has faced these issues. It is not an individual issue. Most of the players don’t come out in the open and reveal their problems because they are afraid that if they do so, they may lose their jobs.
But I am not employed anywhere. So all I asking for is some security to play. All I want to do is play basketball. My father is no more. I receive my father’s pension, which is Rs 5000. It is difficult to even pay your gas bill with that much amount of money.
The players are called up for the Indian camp. Some of them are employed with the Railways, ONGC etc. They get paid on a daily basis from the companies- some get Rs 1000, some Rs 2000 along with that they also get their salaries as well. So they say,” Let the camp run for 6 months. We’ll lead a comfortable life in the camp and earn money. This is like a festival for us.
And those who don’t have a job, don’t you think the federation should do something about it? Someone who is putting in the hard yards in the training and is performing in the matches as well. I have played for basketball for free for the last 17 years, only because of the passion I have got for the sport.
They kept telling me you will get a job next year. Earlier I wasn’t a graduate. After I became a graduate, they said your file is under review and they have been saying this for the past 2 years. A basketball shoe is worth Rs 6000-7000 and they last for roughly 2 months.
2.Has anyone else also suffered the same way as you have?
Jagdeep Singh is another player who has suffered the same way that I have. But even he now is sitting at home. There are so many players who have played for just about a year or two and then have stopped playing and are just happy with earning the money that they receive from their jobs.
3.Have you put forth your issues in front of the federations?
Yes. I have addressed it to everyone and all of them said they will look into the matter. You cant hold anybody by the throat, can you? All you can do is put forth a request and hope that something positive emerges out.
They sent this young guy to the US for training for 5 years through a scholarship. He recently came to India and represented his state side in a match. This player is 7’ 2’’ tall while the maximum height of the players in the opposition was 6’ 3’’.There were many other players in the team who have represented India and yet they have lost to a side that plays for the lower pool. And a team like Punjab, which reaches the final on more occasions than not have finished in 8th spot this time.
I just find it very hard to understand why the organisation didn’t think of investing such a large some of money on someone who has been the playing for such a long time and instead have put such a large amount on that youngster.
I have played the game for 18 years and if there was one good player in the team, then he would have taken them forward. And this lad who undergoes training for 5 years and returns back to lose, only to a lower ranked side and yet you continue to promote him. I have sent my CV to the organization and yet haven’t got a response from them.
4.Have you tried finding out why you have been treated this way?
The only reason that I can think of is that I speak the truth in front of the media. One of our earlier coaches asked me, why did you go to the press and say we don’t get energy drink when even a senior player doesn’t dare to talk about these things to them?
Dhanraj Pillay is another example who was open to address the problems he faced during his playing days and he was kicked out of the federation.
I am open to come in front of the Basketball Federation of India and I will ask them 10 questions and if they answer one of them, then I will stop playing the sport and never play in my life
The whole point is that that those who don’t bend in front of associations are made to do so by them.
I just have one request to make: There is an NBA D-League tryout in New York on June 14th and the entry fee for that is $350. All I need is a sponsor who is willing to pay for my flight tickets and the entry fee for that tryout. If anyone is willing to help me out then I wish to just give it a shot and I am 10000% sure that I will make the cut.
There are so many people in this country who spend lavishly on purchasing cars but aren’t willing to spend money on someone who is striving day-in-and-day-out. There’s one person to drive the car, but they don’t want to give Rs 500.
This is my humble request that anyone who is willing to help me out, then I would like to go and give the tryout.