Being a turbaned and bearded Sikh, he shared that the confidence gained via his lifestyle in Sikhi has aided him immensely.
Sukhneet Singh (fondly called Sookh, by his team mates), comes across like a mean fighting machine, but is decribed as a geat and kind guy by his colleagues and team mates, a valued addition to the tough, direct contact game of American football.
He was recently written about by Dan Polischuk of the Waterloo Chronicle, describing how his faith didn’t hinder him in his game, helped raise awareness of this Sikh sportsman.
Sikh24 got in touch to ask him a few questions.
Sikh24: Tell us about your career so far.
Sukhneet Singh: I am a university level player. I started playing football in grade 10 and have been playing for about 7 years now. This is my third year at Laurier and my first year starting. I chose football over sports because this is the sport I saw myself succeeding in most, and couldn’t be happier with my decision.
As far as I know, I am the only Amritdhari (baptized) playing football at university level and it makes me feel extremely grateful to be playing and representing our Sikh community.
S24: How have team players, coaches, team staff reacted to your roop (appearance)?
SS: Normally it will be my kirpan that will draw most questions, otherwise people will be curious how long my hair is. Teammates and coaches have been extremely respectful and accepting towards my faith and I happily answer whatever questions they may have, to create awareness of Sikhi.
S24: Does Sikhi give you more confidence in your abilities?
SS: Sikhi does give me more confidence as even when things arent working out, I have my Sikhi to rely on and keep me on the right path. Sikhi is the primary focus for me, and as long as I am following maryada, I have faith that God will help me through anything.
S24: Have you met other Sikh sports personalities?
SS: At Laurier I know two Sikh girls on our women’s soccer team; Gagan and Jeevan Parhar. When it comes to football, there are some Sikhs across the country, but I haven’t had a chance to them.
I would like to meet Nuvraj Bassi because when I was a kid, he was the Sikh in sports that I looked up to. His success gave me hope that one day I could also have a chance to play sports at a high level.
S24: Do you think you have opened the door for other Sikh hopefuls?
SS: I hope that my story can help parents of the youth to allow their kids to pursue sports and be student athletes. In our community, parents push going to school and focusing on our grades a lot. That is good, but sports serves as a means to stay fit and also helps our youth stay away from drugs.
SS: The message I have is, if you want to pursue something; go for it keeping your Sikhi in mind, whether it’s sports or not, go for it, because you never know what might happen and you don’t want to be left wondering. When I started playing football, I had no idea I would make it to the university level and be a starter.
I would like to thank my parents and family and friends for supporting me for my decision to play football. I would like to thank Coach Irv and Coach Faulds for giving me the opportunity to play here at Laurier. I would like to thank my high school coach Nick Polasek for believing in me when I didn’t even know there was something to believe in.
Most of all I would like to thank God for the success I have had.