It was in 2014 when the Chhattisgarh Squad qualified for the semi-final and had a fierce clash with the team of Railways in the National Basketball Championship. But the Railways were not aware of the ace player of the team who stands 6'11" tall and could easily change the momentum of the game, leaving everyone completely surprised. Railways concluded the game with their first ever defeat in 12 years with a fine experience and substantial impact in mind by Team Chhattisgarh and this girl was a significant part of the team- Poonam Chaturvedi. The tallest player of the national basketball squad of India who was facing the extreme pain of brain tumour while performing for the state team. In spite of her severe health conditions, Poonam determined not to stop by and kept on playing at her best. While talking with the team of Sportsmatik.com, Poonam shared some unknown facts and real-life challenges as the tallest basketball player of India. Check them out...
You are a part of the winning team of National Basketball Championship. How did it feel? Was it a tough clash with Railways?
We won over railways in 2014. We practised very hard for the final clash with them and yes, it was very tough to beat them. I had a brain tumour at that time. So our coach decided to let me play at the end. When we were declared as the winner of the National Championship, everyone was amazed. Our coach Patel Sir was pleased with our successful performance, and we celebrated the eve with much hoopla.
How does it feel to be called as the tallest female basketball player of India?
Oh! That was really a nice title for me and my parents are proud of me to be a part of the national basketball squad of India. It feels good. Wherever I go; I get compliments for my height and accomplishments that I gained through my tall physique. So it’s good!
How did you know about your skills in basketball? From where did it all start?
It was I guess in 2009 when I was in 10th standard, my father and uncle suggested me to go for basketball as I was 6’3” that time which was a good factor to excel in the sport. So we went to the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur where they had my trial and then I moved to Agra where I stayed for two years to practice and polish my skills in the game. During the 2010 National Women’s Games, Coach Rajesh Patel Sir noticed my calibre and hence, I am here.
Do you set specific goals for your game?
We need to practice a lot to score with a perfect shot. So my strategy is always going for direct shots rather than taking any probability to give a chance to the opponent.
What is your family’s view on your career choices?
I have the full support of my family especially my father who always stands by me for every battle whether it’s my sport or my life. My whole family cheers for me whenever I play in any match and helps me doing my best in the sport. There are families as I have seen in which parents force children to go for academics rather than sports, but that was not in my case. I have always been free for my choices, and I am blessed for that.
What is your daily diet and practice routine?
I have my practice session in the morning from 6 O’ clock that ends till 9 and then evening sessions from 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM. My diet primarily includes milk and bread along with Indian veg meal (Roti and Sabji).
Who is your role model?
There is no such role model behind my choice for basketball. I used to watch players performing well at the basketball and had an inner instinct to go for sports. My family friends also suggested going for basketball with such height. So I went for it.
According to you, what is the best way to deal with criticism and failure?
Yes, criticism and failure do affect your morale and confidence but what a player should do is to focus only on his/her performance to bring success for the nation. This is what I believe and follow in my life.
How did you come to know about your brain tumour?
In 2013, I used to have severe pain in my head which was intolerable. The same year, I went for the senior India camp where I conversed with the doctors about this problem but didn’t get satisfactory reviews. So I went back to my town and consulted with specialists. They told me that I had a brain tumour. On listening to this, I was shell shocked and burst into tears, but I didn’t go for any surgery. Instead, I took Ayurveda medicines and Japanese acupuncture and magnet therapy that benefitted me a lot. I faced the pain of tumour for five years, and it was really a tough battle for me that I eventually conquered.
What do you do in your free time?
As I hardly get time to spend with my family; being busy in practice sessions and events; I give all my free hours to them. Besides this; I am also a shopaholic.
What does your sport teach you as a real-life lesson?
Basketball is a sport that makes you fit and healthy both physically as well as mentally. In fact, not only my sport; every sport is meant to keep your body and mind fit and refreshed. When you play something, you are actually refreshing your mind from boredom and leveraging your stamina and energy.
What is your message to the aspiring players?
My message to the young players is that one should never get nervous facing criticism or failure in sports and always perform for the best. One should always look at the positive side of each scenario and move on with whatever you have to achieve your goals in life. That’s my thinking with which I am moving in my life.
What was the happiest moment of your life?
I had a dream to have the best player award someday for my sports skills and efforts and that moment came into my life in 2015 when I received the Best Player award in Bhilwara. That was the happiest moment of my life. I was honoured in front of a huge crowd, and everyone appreciated me.
What are your views about the initiative taken by Sportsmatik.com?
Yes, it’s a fantastic sports platform. What I have seen is that it provides a fine stage to athletes of local levels to showcase their sporting efforts and skills and hence, get their much-needed exposure to excel. Besides this, I noted that the profiling feature of your site is really impressive. We can fill as many details as possible which is really a good option for athletes. I hope, it may prove really worth for all players around the world. All the best!
Poonam Chaturvedi is now a part of Sportsmatik.com. Checkout her profile at the link given below