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Wednesday, December 23, 2009



 He was a novice and did not know the game before he joined the Army. But Hari Dutt Kapri hailing from Pitthoragarh district not only played basketball, but also captained the Indian team and later was the first Arjun awardee from the area in 1978. Kapri is still devoting his time in the stadium to train youth making efforts in the hope that one day his trained players could make a mark in this game at the national and international level. “I started training the youth in the stadium for Rs 1,500 per month since 2005,” said Kapri.

Born on August 5, 1942, at Chiriyakhan village in Muwani valley of Pitthoragarh district, Kapri joined the Army as a recruit in the Bengal Engineering Group and developed a love for basketball. “I just loved it and started playing after I joined the Army as my fellow jawans made fun of mine when I started practising as the game was totally new to them as well as to me,” recalled Kapri.

By dint of his hard work and motivation, Kapri turned out to be an outstanding cager and was made the captain of the serviced team in 1965 and winning the national competition. He was made the captain of the Indian Basketball team that was placed fourth in the fifth Asian Basketball Championship held at Bangkok in the year 1969.

The winning spree of services basketball team under Kapri started in 1965 and the team continuously won gold at national basketball competition from 1963 to 1978. Kapri also captained the Indian basketball team in 1979 for an invitation basketball championship in Sri Lanka. “I also played in confederation basketball tournament in Malaya in 1970, Asian basketball competition at Tokyo in 1971, Quaid-e-Azam competition in 1976 at Lahore, where we won gold and Asian basketball competition in 1977 at Kualalampur in Malayasia,” Kapri said. “We placed the Indian basketball team at third place from seventh in Asia after we won the Asian basketball championship in 1975,” he recalled.

Kapri was given Arjun award for his contribution in basketball in 1978 and took voluntary retirement from the Army in 1980. He joined Birla Vidya Mandir, a local school, as a coach from 1985 to 2003.
Remembering one of his memorable basketball matches Kapri said, “When the Indian team was playing a match against Thailand at Bangkok in Asian basketball tournament in 1975, I was injured during first half of the match and was taken away on a stretcher from the ground, but my team started losing the match. I requested the team manager and doctor concerned to let me go into the field and play. But when both refused I gave them in writing that I will bear all the risk. I joined the match and led my team to victory with high a score.”

After retirement from Birla Vidhya Mandir, he has volunteered to coach local youth at the stadium and hope that one day another basketball player from the hills would make it a big in the game.

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