Sikh Teenager in US gets to Play Soccer in a 'Patka'

December 28, 2006

Author: Khushwant Singh

Source: The Times of India

CHANDIGARH: Sikhs in the US have won a battle against what they term as religious discrimination in the case of a teenager who was denied the right to play soccer because of his patka.

Harshaan Singh Atwal of Pennsylvania was denied playing soccer in November with his patka (head covering) on. The patka and knotted hair, according to the referee, were safety hazards that could physically harm other players.

The Sikh American legal defence and education fund (SALDEF), which took up the matter with the concerned authorities, recently received a formal letter of regret from Lehigh Valley Youth Soccer League (LVYSL) for denying Harshaan the right to play soccer.

In his letter, LVYSL president Bernie Bennett, who came under pressure from local residents and fellow players, wrote: "It is the league's fondest wish that every youth be allowed to participate in the beautiful game, regardless of race, religion, gender, nationality, economic status, athletic ability, or any other classification."