September 26, 2014

BFI / IMG Reliance expand School/College leagues to 24 Indian cities this season

Since we're always hoop-minded over here, compare the following bit of news to a team that maintains a slower pace through the first three quarters of the game, before letting out the floodgates for a dominant finish.

After three years of steady growth, the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) and IMG Reliance organized school and college basketball leagues around India are set for an explosive acceleration this year. The BFI announced that the new seasons of the Indian School Basketball League (ISBL) and the Indian College Basketball League (ICBL) will be held in 22 and 21 Indian cities respectively. Over 1100 institutions and 13,000 combined school or college students - both men and women - will be participating in the ISBL and ICBL in 24 total cities. The games are starting this week and will conclude with the National Finals for all winners in New Delhi in December.

Roopam Sharma, the CEO of the BFI, and Ashu Jindal, the CEO of IMG Reliance, announced the new chapter of the leagues at a launch event in New Delhi on Thursday with Chief Guest Sarbananda Sonowal, the Union Minister of State-Independent Charge for Sports & Youth Affairs, Skill Development & Entrepreneurship. India's chief basketball coach KK Chansoria was also present at the occasion.

"Sport anywhere cannot be developed without nurturing the grassroots," said Sharma, "We firmly believe that a strong grassroots endeavor like this will not only cultivate a strong talent pool for basketball and it will popularize the sport among the youth in an unparalleled way. These leagues confirm BFI’s commitment to raise the profile of the sport in the country and help India excel to even higher heights on the world stage."

These leagues will form the foundation of one of the nation’s most robust school and college based grassroots sports programme. According to the BFI, the structured, pan-India leagues will allow players and coaches to develop their skills through continued performance over the dedicated three month season. Successful execution of this initiative will play a key role in transforming the sporting and basketball culture in the country, from the grassroots to the professional level. Furthermore, the ICBL and ISBL will serve as a feeder system into India’s Men’s and Women’s National Teams. The format of the leagues will emphasize continuous participation and improvement and provides an excellent platform for players, coaches and officials to develop the critical basketball skills required to compete and excel at the highest levels.

The ultimate conclusion for both the leagues will be the National Championship, which will be held at the Thyagraj Stadium in New Delhi in December 2014.

Speaking about the initiative, Jindal said, "The Indian School Basketball League and Indian College Basketball League are groundbreaking additions to India’s sporting landscape. It is only through ambitious grassroots development programs, such as these that the sporting culture in India will truly transform. These leagues and our continued partnership with the BFI confirm IMG Reliance’s commitment to growing the sport of basketball in the country."

Both the ISBL and ICBL are divided into two divisions: The Premier League and the Challenger League. A total of 10 teams will take part from each city in each league and in each gender division.

ISBL Participating Cities
  • Premier League: Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Ludhiana, Indore, Cochin, Jaipur. 
  • Challenger League: Pune, Gurgaon, Noida, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Bhubaneshwar, Patna, Goa, Bhilai, Varanasi, Dehradun, Guwahati.

ICBL Participating Cities
  • Premier League: Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Ludhiana, Indore, Thiruvanathapuram, Jaipur. 
  • Challenger League: Pune, Gurgaon, Noida, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Bhubaneshwar, Patna, Goa, Raipur, Varanasi, Dehradun.
The winners of each city's 'Premier League' will travel to Delhi to play in the National Finals for both the ICBL and the ISBL and for both boys and girls. The format in both the ISBL and the ICBL will feature a 'relegation and promotion' system. The bottom two Premier League teams will play against the top two Challenge League teams in special playoffs to determine the winning two teams for the Premier League next season and losing two teams for the Challenge League.

The BFI will award the winning school and college at the national level with a refurbished basketball court, in addition to cash awards, certificates and trophies for standout performers.

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