Sikh to play Canadian football wearing patka
Gur Kirpal Singh Ashk | TNN
Patiala: Navraj Singh Bassi of Vancouver will be making history when he will take the field in the Canadian Football League with his ‘patka’ on. The 6 ft 6 inch Sikh footballer will play for Grey Cup champions Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Till now the ‘patka’ was considered a hindrance among Sikhs who wanted to play the game. If he plays in his team’s match against BC Lions on July 4, he will be the first Sikh to play football with a ‘patka’.
Navraj has his family’s full support in pursuing his passion. ‘‘We are very excited that he will be given an opportunity to showcase his talent and by the grace of god he will excel in the sport he has loved since childhood,’’ said father Kulwinder Singh Bassi. Talking about Navraj’s team, his brother Pavan, a super heavyweight champion, said, ‘‘Saskatchewan coaches are really impressed with his abilities and he is really enjoying the team atmosphere.’’
Harbans Singh Jandali, former president of Ontario Sikh and Gurdwara Council told TOI from Toronto that Punjabis living in the area are eagerly waiting for the match and a large number of them would be in Vancouver to cheer Navraj. Navraj attended college at the University of Oregon. Despite receiving more than 40 offers for football scholarships, the North Delta Secondary School player chose to stay in the northwest to remain close to his family. He played a few seasons with the Oregon Ducks.
Leading Punjabi broadcaster in Canada, Kuldeep Deepak, said with obvious pride, ‘‘We have already registered our community’s presence on the football field.’’