Society

To NBA via Kochi

As the country rejoices in the drafting of Indian hoopster Palpreet Singh Brar in the 2016 NBA DLeague Draft, there is a most unexpected part of this story that involves Kochi. Palpreet’s path to this great achievement brought him through Kochi where he completed an intense training programme run by the team at ElevateX Performance Institute.



The towering (6-ft-9-inches), 22-year-old created history being the second Indian after Satnam Singh Bhamara to play for an NBA DLeague franchise. Satnam trained for five years in the US before being drafted, while Palpreet completed his training in India before heading to the US just six weeks before the DLeague tryout.



A farmer’s son from Muktsar Village in Doda, Punjab, Palpreet has been training with the Kochi-based team since March. He spent two months going through intense training in Kochi before the ElevateX Sports Performance team accompanied him to the US for training at the John Lucas Academy in Houston and with elite basketball coach Ross Burns at the New York Athletic Club.



James Mathews, founder of Elevate X, says, “It’s exciting to see what the NBA is doing to create opportunities for India’s best athletes to train right here in their home country. They recognised the unique combination of excellent coaches, infrastructure like the Regional Sports Centre and the up and coming Sports City project along with the beautiful coastal landscape that makes Kerala a desired training destination for elite athletes. Our athletes may need to go outside the country to go up against better competition, but it’s becoming clear that they can get most of their core training done right here in India.”



After winning the NBA national talent hunt competition in February, it was the NBA’s Carlos Barroca who decided that Palpreet’s preparation for the DLeague tryouts would begin in Kochi.



“Palpreet needed to be surrounded by a team of thoughtful professionals who could, in a short time, challenge him to embrace the intense work ethic required of elite athletes. We believe that Carlos and the NBA trusted us as key collaborators because our emphasis of human-centered design would motivate Palpreet to give us his best effort,” says James.



When Palpreet came to Kochi in March he had to adjust to his new surroundings. The April heat bothered him and because of a lingering knee injury, he was in less than ideal shape. “He was initially very reserved, even sceptical. He yearned for Punjabi food - makki roti and sarson saag. But we had to teach him that a critical part of his training would be his diet,” recollects Jaish George, Director of Sports Performance, ElevateX.



Early in the training, Palpreet could not understand why a collaborative team would be so dedicated to his success. “Once Palpreet realised our efforts were genuine, he began to enjoy his workouts and we started to see greater intensity in his commitment and energy,” says Jaish who was assisted in the training by Sports Training Manager, Mohsin N.M.



Palpreet trained at various venues in the city - Parade Ground, Veli Maidan, on Kannamaly Beach, the YMCA gym, Gold's Gym and RSC.



Along with improving his physical abilities the team prepared him to communicate effectively with the coaches he would be interacting with in the US. Team members, Shawn Samuel and Charlie Kurian engaged a spoken English tutor, George Mambilly, in Fort Kochi, to help improve his command of English.



Based out of a home-stay in Fort Kochi, Palpreet started with basketball training everyday at 5 a.m. and after a gruelling day of strength and speed training would end the day at 8 p.m. with Yoga. The days were planned to push Palpreet to new levels of strength, conditioning, power, agility, speed and endurance. During the training, Barroca would check-in and was incredibly pleased with Palpreet’s progress.



In July, the training shifted to the US. The ElevateX team travelled with him and oversaw the training plan coordinated by Carlos. Palpreet’s selection by the Long Island Nets sent waves of joy across the country and a sense of pride for his family and the team that worked so hard to realise this impossible dream to become a reality.



Phijinder Singh Brar, Palpreet’s father, recalled how he was woken up at 1 a.m. in the morning by Palpreet who said that he was a lion who had pitched the Indian flag in America. “We are very proud. He worked hard. His time in Kerala made a difference. Palpreet said that the people of Kerala are very friendly. We have plans to visit the State.”



James sums up his team’s big success story, “Palpreet may be our most recognised success story but this is not our first. Our mission is to enable every human to reach their potential. Nobody achieves anything great on their own. We’re honoured to have gone on this journey with Palpreet. He still has more to achieve and we will stay committed to push him towards those goals.”



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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 7:13:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/To-NBA-via-Kochi/article16091728.ece

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