From playing football in his own country to becoming a sports minister in an adopted country, from losing PU student council elections to winning elections in Canada, from being Baljit to Bal, Canadian sports minister Bal Gosal, 52, gets candid in a tête-à-tête on Wednesday.
Hailing from Ratinda village in Jalandhar, this graduate from DAV College Jalandhar dropped LLB at Panjab University, Chandigarh, to get married to a Punjabi girl settled in Canada in 1981. And, that’s when he shifted his base to Canada.
Recalling the days spent here, he says, “Chandigarh is the best city to be in. I stayed here for a year when I was a student at the law department. I even contested the student council elections for the post of general secretary but unfortunately lost it. Most of my friends belong to this place. Thanks to social media such as Facebook, Twitter, emails; it’s not difficult to connect with friends anywhere in the world.”
About the co-curricular activities he was involved in during his college days, the sports minister says, “I used to play football during my graduation days in Jalandhar. I didn’t pursue sports at Panjab University but I was involved in various other activities.”
“I couldn’t visit PU, though I really wanted to, due to paucity of time. But in future whenever I get time, I will visit,” says Gosal about his plans to revisit campus.
Life in Canada
After moving to Canada, Gosal pursued a certificate course to become a stationary engineer (Class 4). However, owing to a dipping economy, Gosal says he couldn’t bag a job. “I then worked in the financial sector; for McDonnell Douglas Canada in 1984, Prudential Insurance in 1994, Goodison Insurance in 2004 and Financial Services in 2008.”
Apart from working, Gosal also found time to indulge in a game of football. “I have always played football, even in Canada. After moving there, I played for the Punjab Sports Federation, which was then taken over by Gurudwara Ontario Khalsa Darbar Sports. I was a football coach for kids in the age group of 6-8 years,” he shares.
When asked if he believed his football dreams would have blossomed in India had he stayed on, Gosal replies in negative. “Not really,” he replies, upon which a friend of his jokes, “In that case, he would have played cricket instead of football,” followed by everyone’s laughter.
Though a member of the Ontario Film Review Board in 1994, Gosal is shy of admitting his love for films. “I do watch movies, but only occasionally. I usually watch them when I’m travelling. However, it is sports that I love the most,” he insists.