Youthful, energetic, stylish, humble, lively, explosive…the adjectives fall short when it comes to describing this Punjabi munda. Just 21-years-old, Ranbir Singh Virdi has already secured his place in the Indian Senior Men’s team with his breathtaking crossovers, picture perfect back-spinning jumpers, heady fast breaks and aerial acrobatics.
Say hello to the new breed of Indian ballers, who are not afraid to take flight and are raring to lift India to greater heights on the international stage.
Name: Ranbir Singh Virdi
Teammates call you… Vadda. This is a nickname that has stuck with me since childhood. I have a younger brother Jasjeet, who looks just like me and also plays basketball. The only difference is that I am a couple of inches taller. So to distinguish me from my brother, my teammates started calling me “Vadda” (Punjabi variant for the Hindi word ‘Bada’ or ‘big’).
Height: 188 cms/ 6ft 2’’
Hometown: Kotkapura, Punjab.
First time you held a basketball in your hand (age + occasion): The first time I played was when I was 10-11 years old. I was amazed at the way the older players were able to score from so far off and make it look so easy. In my mind I started thinking, “Haan yaar..mujhe bhi ye karna hain!” (I want to play like them as well).
Basketball journey: I did my initial schooling, from nursery to sixth, at the Gandhi Model Senior Secondary School (SSS), Kotkapura. After that I studied at Ashoka Model SSS and Rishi Model SSS. In 11th and 12th, I moved to the Jalandhar Sports School. In 12th standard in a match between our Jalandhar team and Punjab Police, I played really well and was asked to tryout for Punjab Police.
I have been playing with Punjab Police since March 2011. I represented Punjab at two senior national tournaments. In the Chennai nationals in 2011, we were the champions. In the 2012 Championships in Ludhiana, we were the runners up.
I got my big break into the Indian team earlier this year at the FIBA Asia 3 on 3 Championships in Doha, where we made it to the quarterfinals. I am currently on the Indian Senior Men’s team which has qualified for the FIBA Asia Championships to be held in August 2013.
If not basketball, then what? I would probably have become an engineer. My cousin has studied mechanical engineering and I liked helping him with his projects.
Support system (family- whether they played & how they supported you): My father Sardar Ranjit Singh was an international basketball player and my mother Jasbir Kaur played professional hockey. She tours even now at the 50+ veteran tournaments and has travelled twice to Singapore and Malaysia. My younger brother Jasjeet Singh has started playing basketball at the university level.