India’s population represents phenomenal scope in any field. It’s been long though that with a population in excess of one billion, India could be the breeding ground for some fantastic sportsmen and women.
Basketball is a game that doesn’t require a lot – a ball and some hoops and you could have a game all day! Many people too have thought that the day we see an Indian playing in the NBA or WNBA is not far. With that, Reliance Industries Limited’s Reliance Foundation has been promoting basketball to a great extent in India. The organization, chaired by Nita Ambani has been working tirelessly for the welfare for citizens for a long time. Nita Ambani, talking about the venture was quoted as saying, “We are excited to partner with NBA, the world’s premier basketball league, in transforming India’s basketball landscape. India has a rich reservoir of sporting talents and schools are the fountainhead where those talents can be identified and nurtured.”
Reliance Foundation in association with the NBA has announced a partnership to launch a comprehensive school-based youth basketball strategy for India: the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA programme. The programme aims to teach basketball to more than 100,000 youth and train 300 coaches and physical education instructors to implement a turnkey NBA curriculum in India. The long-term aim of the program is to implement coaching to over a million youngsters and train 2,000 coaches in the same sport. NBA Commissioner David Stern has been supportive of RIL led efforts to promote basketball in India. Commenting on working with the Nita Ambani-led organization, he said, “Reliance Foundation is recognized for its tireless efforts to give back to communities, and we could not ask for a better partner to work with us to positively impact the lives of Indian youth.” The programme is already in its first year and is operating in more than 150 schools across Mumbai and Kochi.
While basketball is known as a sport exclusively for the tall, some have made it big in the sport without possessing a herculean height; none more so than Tyrone ‘Muggsy’ Bogues. At 5’3″ Boguesstill holds the record for being the shortest player ever in the league. In spite of a perceived lack of height, Bogues played an impressive 14 seasons including a fruitful nine year spell with the Charlotte Hornets. This is Bogues’ second trip to India and he spent time in the country advising players and coaches.
With Bogues’ visit, there is hope that basketball will benefit and Indian players, who lack access to the training, facilities, coaching, or competitive basketball opportunities, will soon reach a competitive edge and become a force in the world of basketball. With NBA stars coming down and praising the talent, and the work done by Reliance Foundation, basketball in India seems set on the right path.