Back in 2010, Muskan Chanana had only spent a few days learning basketball when she decided to quit the sport. For her, the coach’s scolding was too harsh to bear. However, Muskan’s mother Ajayita talked the girl into changing her decision.
“She asked me to be more patient and put in extra efforts. The advice paid off. Today, basketball is my passion,” shares Muskan, a national-level player, who has now landed the opportunity to visit Japan under a cultural exchange programme mainly due to her achievements in the sport.
Under the initiative, named the ‘Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths Programme’, or JENESYS, a total of 182 Indian students have been selected by the Indian government for the Japan tour, to be organised in December, on the basis of their accomplishments in the field of cultural activities, and sports disciplines including football, basketball, volleyball and tennis. The contingent comprises of 27 basketball players, and Muskan and one Bisaj Sood are the two students selected from Chandigarh. Another city lad, Sabrang Sandal, has been selected in tennis.
“Apart from their talent in their respective fields of activity, the academic performance of the students was also taken into consideration to make the selection. So, it were the all-rounders which were sought. In Japan we will play basketball, interact with local students and take part in debates,” added the 15-year-old, who studies in Class 10 at St Joseph’s School, Sector 44. She trains under Paramjit Kaur Sandhu, a UT sports department coach.
Muskan gives her mother, who an Ayurvedic doctor, the credit of initiating into the game, “I have a bent towards sport, probably because my father is a former university-level athlete, but it is my mother who prompted me to join basketball mainly for fitness,” said Muskan. Since starting with the sport four years ago, Muskan has participated in two national championships (in 2011 & 2012) and 58th National School Games (2013-14). She also has won one gold, a bronze and a silver medal in different inter-school tournaments.
“The credit for whatever I have achieved so far goes to Paramjit ma’am, and more importantly, to my mother. Hadn’t she (mother) motivated me, I would have left the game long ago,” said Muskan, who aspires to be an engineer, but insists that there is no reason that she will quite basketball: “I want to continue playing as long it’s possible. Moreover, my biggest dream is to play for the country, and if I am able to get this opportunity, I would consider my all other goals as second priorities."