May 30, 2011
IMG Basketball’s Bobby Sharma: “The future of Indian basketball is very, very bright"
Bobby Sharma is Senior Vice President, Global Business Development, Basketball, for IMG, the global sports and media company. IMG, in their partnership with Reliance, have come together to work with the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) to oversee the growth of basketball in India. Sharma who is in India to oversee the growth of IMG’s basketball business visited the 28th Youth National Basketball Championship for Boys & Girls in Nagpur (Maharashtra) this past week to watch some of the best U-16 players from around the country take part in this competitive tournament.
The brand new Indoor Stadium at Mankapur, in Nagpur, was almost as much of a showcase as the talent on the floor. The stadium was inauguarated on the opening day of the Youth Nationals by Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Thursday. I got a chance to speak to Sharma, who was welcomed at the tournament and introduced to some of the participating players on Saturday, about the emerging basketball talent and infrastructure in India.
Hoopistani. What are your thoughts on the new stadium and facilities and the host city of the Youth Nationals, Nagpur?
Sharma: “As the geographic epicenter of the country, Nagpur makes a perfect host for events such as the 28th BFI Under-16 Youth National Championships. I think that this Indoor Stadium of the Divisional Sports Complex is absolutely beautiful. Thanks to the great efforts of the government officials and Harish Sharma of the Basketball Federation of India, this arena is a showcase venue, not only for Nagpur, but all of India.”
Q. What impression have the Youth players left on you after watching them play? Have you noticed any standout players or teams at this competition?
Sharma: “The impression I get is that the future of Indian basketball is very, very bright. I was just remarking to one of the coaches yesterday how impressed I was with the level of the talent and athleticism on display, for both boys and girls, from all over India. But the thing that struck me the most was how much fun everyone was having, how much joy so many have for the game – and that isn't limited to the kids. It's so great to see basketball in its most pure and organic form, played, coached, officiated, organized, and watched out of love.”
Q. What should be the next step in improving youth and grass roots level basketball in India?
Sharma: “That is an important question, as improving youth and grassroots basketball is one of the highest priorities of the great partnership forged between IMG Reliance and the BFI. I think we have recently taken a giant leap forward with the hiring of three incredible coaches from the highest levels of basketball for the senior teams - Kenny Natt from the NBA, and Pete Gaudet and Zak Penwell from the most elite Division I American colleges. Importing their knowledge and passion for the game into the existing structures of the BFI, stretching throughout the entire country, will yield immediate and long-lasting returns all the way to the youngest and newest players and coaches.”
“I am incredibly honored to be here, and so thankful for all the warmth and kindness I have received from the Indian basketball community. I already feel I am part of the BFI family.”