February 13, 2014

Basketball de-registered as a sport in Jammu and Kashmir

It's no secret that basketball has struggled to take off in India's northern-most state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), despite the efforts of many outside onlookers who have fallen in love with the region as much as they love the sport itself. But even a struggling sport is better than a non-existent sport. Basketball in J&K was on a life-line for several years; now, Rising Kashmir has reported that the Jammu and Kashmir State Sports Council (JKSSC) has taken it completely off life support. Essentially, this means that end of the J&K State Basketball Federation and the end of all funding for basketball in the state.

This is truly disturbing news. Basketball was one of six sports recently de-registered by the JKSSC, including Kayaking and Canoeing, Swimming, Softball, Roller Skating and Body Building.

"When the associations do not maintain the things which they ought to, obviously we are not left with other option than to derecognize them,” Abdul Qayoom Baba, Sports Officer, Kashmir told Rising Kashmir. "These Associations who have been derecognized are not maintaining the accounts, not holding elections, unofficially conducting the trials and so on and thus disturbing the constitution of the sports council, compel us to do so."

Last week, the J&K Basketball Association even conducted selection trials for the state's team for the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) organized National Championship, set to be held in New Delhi from the end of February. But Qayoom Baba commented that the trials were conducted without the permission of the JKSSC and without screening, so the certificates given to the participants would be of no use.

Despite the state federation's ineffectiveness, their struggles to conduct better district and state-level competitions, and therefore, the poor performances of J&K players at the national level, the state was able to participate in most Indian national tournaments, even as minnows. School teams and clubs from J&K would also make the effort of joining BFI or NBA organized recreational leagues in Punjab, New Delhi, etc. Over the last few years, foreign coaches like JD Walsh and Shahid Bhat have done a valiant job to bring national and international attention to the sport in the state.

Unfortunately, now we won't be seeing the Jammu & Kashmir contingents in national championships, at least in the near future. And talented players from the position would have to look for other ways to find support for their basketball dreams beyond the state.

Basketball in J&K is dead, but hoop-heads in the region and beyond will be hoping that it can be resurrected as soon as possible.

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