Fateh Singh is a professional cricketer who plays for Nottinghamshire CCC. Fateh has been involved in county cricket from a young age, from being a nine-year-old in the county’s Under-11 side to being the club’s Under-13 captain. Fateh got his first Nottinghamshire century at the age of 11. In 2022, Fateh was named in England’s team for the Under-19 Cricket World Cup in the West Indies.

Fateh developed alopecia at the age of 10 and is currently living with alopecia universalis.

We are delighted that Fateh became an ambassador for Alopecia UK in December 2022. In this interview, we find out more about him..

Fateh, please tell us a little about your experience of losing your hair at the age of 11..

During year 6, I was playing football and banged my head on a sharp corner of a wall. As a result my head was glued together and due to my religion, I had long hair, and could not comb it. After 6 weeks or so, I tried to comb my hair at which point it all came off together. It came as a big shock to the family, but being very young, I didn't fathom the effect it would have and the full meaning of losing my hair. At the time, I did not understand the fact that my hair may never grow back. Prior to losing my hair, I used to wear a bandana as I am a Sikh and we believe in covering our hair. I continued to do so as normal throughout year 6 and year 7. At which point there was no real reason for me to wear a bandana anymore so I stopped. At Trent College, I fitted in really well and got the odd few comments here and there, but I accepted myself for who I am and hearing anything regarding my hair did not bother me.

How do you feel about your alopecia now?

When I was younger, I accepted the fact that this is a part of me and there is no changing that. Therefore, today living with alopecia, it doesn't bother me. I realised having alopecia does not hold me back or prevent me from doing anything I want to do, so there isn't anything really to fuss over.

Have you found there are any additional challenges to being a young Sikh man without hair? 

It does affect me because sometimes I feel my recognition as a Sikh is lost, which I feel is quite a big part of me. I am happy that as a Sikh every boy has the middle name Singh, so this is one of the reasons why I prefer this name on my shirt, rather than my family name, as it is a symbol of my Sikh heritage and identity. For a Sikh, you have 5 K's, and 'Kesh' (the practice of allowing one's hair to grow naturally) is one of them, so losing my hair almost felt like losing some of my Sikh identity. 

Do you believe there are any advantages to having alopecia?

As much as I dislike that due to my alopecia I may receive more exposure then some, this exposure can be good publicity and advantageous for any potential opportunities that may arise. However the flipside of this is that I worry it may undermine my own ability and capability. I want to be known for my cricket talent and not the fact that I look different to my team mates. 

What would you say is the hardest thing about having alopecia?

The hardest thing for me is probably the fact that I have to take extra care with my skin to ensure I do not get sunburnt whilst playing cricket. Also, in the winter, due to the fact I have no hair I am colder as there is no hair to trap heat and keep me warm.  I do not feel like there is anything difficult but these physical issues are often not understood by those unaffected by alopecia. 

Why have you chosen to become an Alopecia UK ambassador? 

I understand how the view of battling with alopecia for young individuals may be rather difficult and I simply wish to show how having alopecia shouldn’t stop someone from fulfilling their potential. I’ve been told I'm an inspiration to a few individuals and want to take that further and hopefully inspire many more. It is heartwarming to know that others view me as inspiring and it is an honour to be an Alopecia UK ambassador and to be able to help others. 

What is your biggest ambition for the future? 

I want to be the best professional I can be, on and off the pitch. In terms of cricket, I want to play for England in all formats and play in a Men's World Cup and play in the IPL on the largest scene and perform to my best ability.

What advice would you give to any young people wanting to play at top-level in their chosen sport?

I would advise them to follow their dreams and not fear away from hard work. Tackle any problems head on and never back down from a challenge. Just remember many athletes performing at the top level don't always get it right - a bad day is inevitable and how you respond to that bad day and bounce back separates the good from the best.

What advice would you give to any young people struggling with their alopecia?

Do not worry about what anyone else thinks about you. You are you, for you, and if someone else cannot see that then it is more of a reflection of them and not you. I understand it is hard, but if you can come to terms with accepting yourself for who you are then you will be in good stead.

Thanks to Fateh for sharing his story. Find out more about all our Ambassadors here.