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Indian Players in World Sports

Indian Players in World Sports
July 25
15:46 2019

Indian Players in World Sports

Following an impressive showing in the Cricket World Cup, Indian sportsman have proved that they can take their place amongst the very best in the world. This is only to be expected, with cricket something of a national obsession in our country. What might surprise you however, is the number of Indians who have made their mark in international sports and even sports that are specific to other countries, such as American football.

Indians in the NFL

While there will be no Indian-Americans in the race to see who will succeed in the NFL this year, there has been Indian representation in the past, including a Super Bowl winner. Perhaps the most famous NFL player of Indian origin is Brandon Chillar, who played at the highest level of American football between 2004 and 2011. A gifted college player at UCLA, Chillar was picked in round four of the 2004 NFL draft by the St Louis Rams. As outside linebacker, he made his first touchdown in his second season, returning a blocked punt for 29 yards against Jacksonville Jaguars. He moved to the Green Bay Packers in 2008, where he was part of the Superbowl winning side in his final season with the team. He has since gone on to be a driving force in setting up American football in India, along with a host of major NFL names such as Bears coach, Mike Ditka, Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski and Cowboys’ wide receiver Michael Irvin.

Chillar’s success was built on the foundations of the first ever Indian-American in the NFL, Sanjay Rajiv Beach, who also played for the Green Bay Packers, as well as the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Jets. Beach’s career did not reach the same Super Bowl heights as his fellow countryman, although he can boast that he was the first players to complete a throw from legend Brett Favre.


The only Indian-American currently working in the NFL is Dallas Cowboys wide receivers’ coach, Sanjay Lal. A former player for UCLA and the St Louis Rams, Lal has had a long and successful career coaching across the NFL. He has held coaching positions at the Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and the Indianapolis Colts.

Indians in the NBA

The two most famous Indian-Americans in the NBA were both giants of the game in more ways than one. Satnam Singh, the first Indian to play in basketball’s top flight, stood at an impressive seven feet two inches. He was selected 52nd overall by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2015 draft, making him the first player for over a decade to be drafted without playing college ball or playing professionally overseas. Having made his mark in the NBA, he currently plies his trade in the National Basketball League for Canada for St John’s Edge.

Satnam may have been the first Indian player drafted by the NBA, but it was Sim Bhullar who was the first to make the regular season roster for an NBA team, albeit for just ten days at the Sacramento Kings. Standing a mighty seven feet five inches, he was the sixth tallest player in NBA history. He currently plays in China’s basketball league for Guangxi Rhino.

Indians in the NHL

The title of the biggest Indian origin star in hockey has to go to Manny Malhotra, who was picked an impressive 7th overall by the New York Rangers in the 1998 NHL draft despite being just 18years old. A spectacular career followed, spanning almost twenty years, with over a thousand professional appearances and well over a hundred goals. Manny skated out for some of the biggest names in the business, including the Montreal Canadians, Vancouver Canucks and the San Jose Sharks. Today, he works as assistant coach for the Canucks, sharing the skills and strategies he has learned over two decades in the game.

Indians in world soccer

Of course, Indian players don’t just do well in American sports; they can be seen around the world in other sports like soccer. Defensive midfielder, Harmeet Singh, is a rising star in Norwegian football and has represented his country at all levels of the junior game as well as making seven full appearances for the national side. Other soccer players of Indian origin include winger Luciano Narsingh of Feyenoord, who also represents the Dutch national team, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, goalkeeper with Norwegian side Stabaek, Malvind Benning of Mansfield Town, Neal Taylor of Swansea City and Diego Bisewar of Greek side Thessaloniki. They are joined by up and coming young talents Yan Dhanda of Liverpool and Joshua Pynadath, who was signed by the legendary Real Madrid at the tender age of 13

Hashim Amla batting for South Africa

Hashim Amla From South Africa

Indian cricketers in other countries

Of course, even when it comes to our national game, you’ll find Indian origin players working around the world for different countries. England have boasted the likes of Nasser Hussain, Ravi Bopara, Mark Ramprakash and Monty Panasar in the past, although their current ‘spin twins’ Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid are of Pakistani origin. The West Indies have a long tradition of players with East Indies heritage, including Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ravi Rampaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Sunil Narine, who was recently recalled for the first T20 against India. But perhaps the most famous Indian origin cricketer playing at the moment has to be Hashim Amla, the high scoring opening batsman for South Africa.

The future of Indians in world sport

With nearly a fifth of the world’s population, it is only a matter of time before India becomes more widely represented in sports across the world. Players like Chillar and Beach in the NFL, Singh and Bhullar in the NBA and Manny Malhotra in the NHL, are blazing a trail for new and exciting players to take their place at the very top of the game. We will always love our cricket, but it is great to see all kinds of new sports reaching India’s youth, both at home and overseas. And with the emergence of American sports at home, like Chillar’s Elite Football League of India, the days of greater representation are getting closer all the time.



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