You know what I love even more than basketball awareness in India? Basketball awareness at new, unexpected places in India. That's why this story from 'The Silk City' of Orissa, Behrampur, made me smile: around 15 veteran players from Orissa got together on May 17th to organise a three-week long basketball coaching camp for youngsters, independently and from their own resources.
The camp is being held at the Berhampur stadium, under the tutelage of veteran players such as former national player J. Kameshwar Rao, Arun Kumar Patnaik, basketball coach Kajal Kumar Sahu, and Orissa's only international referee, Rajkumar Patra. Around 80 youngsters between the ages of six to 18 years are participating in this camp.
From The Hindu:
The organisers said despite several requests from parents they could not intake more participants due to constraint of resources. “We are hoping to hold a bigger camp next time if we get some sponsorship,” Mr. Patra said.
The participants of this camp have been divided into three groups. The 15 participants of the age group below eight years have made the organisers hope that a bright future awaits basketball in this region. The other two groups are meant for participants between eight to 13 years and rest participants are in another group. The youngest ones have been named ‘Kids' group... “The enthusiasm of these kids is also proving to be a major catalyst for the practice of other participants”, Mr. Patra said. Apart from practical training in field the participants are also being imparted theoretical training about the fundamentals and history of the game.
This is exactly what the game needs in India! Veteran leadership and direction to develop the game up from the grassroots, and not just in the Tier I cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai but at relatively smaller places like Behrampur, too.
I'm hoping that this initiative by the Orissa veteran basketballers serves to encourage other players, coaches, and organisers around the country who have enough influence in the game to help its growth around the country.