May 12, 2010

Milestones in Indian Basketball

So, I was going through the April 2010 edition of All Sports Magazine (Volume 4, Number 1), which was doing their 3rd anniversary special issue, and the cover feature was 101 Milestones in Indian Sports. The story was about a 101 events that represented the "good, bad, and ugly" development in Indian Sports.

Now here's the travesty... Amongst these 101, the events (justifiably) mentioned were from the following variety of sports: Cricket, Field Hockey, Football, Shooting, Chess, Billiards, Badminton, Tennis, Track & Field, Wrestling, Mountaineering, Swimming, Golf, Volleyball, Snooker, Cycling, Weightlifting, Boxing, Table-Tennis, and Formula One Racing.

Look at that list again, and if you're a basketball fan, shake your head in dissapointment. There hasn't been a basketball milestone (good or bad) in our sporting history memorable enough to be mentioned in this vast list? Unfortunately, I can't even argue against their decision to omit Indian hoops, because tragic as it may sound, the reality is that there have been no singular events in basketball here to top the other milestones mentioned by the magazine.

So, instead, I've decided to make my own, very short list of Milestones in Indian Basketball. Feel free to add any major events that I may have missed.

The rules of Basketball were first devised in 1891 by the Canadian physician Dr. James Naismith. India were actually one of the earliest countries to adopt the game and start playing it in 1930.

1930: Basketball first played in India.
1934: The first Indian National Championship for men is held in New Delhi.
1936: The Indian National Team (The Young Cagers) become a member of FIBA.
1950: The Basketball Federation of India (BFI) is formed.
1975: The Men's National team finished fourth in the FIBA Asia Championship in Bangkok, the highest finish for India in the men's division.
1980: The Men's National team participated in the Moscow Olympics but finished last in the tournament.
1981: The FIBA Asia Championship was held in Calcutta, India finished fifth.
2007: The JDBasketball School begins to promote and teach basketball around India.
2008: NBA legend Robert Parish comes to India, ushering a flurry of activity of the NBA's interest in the country.
2009: NBA inaugurates basketball courts in India and launches the NBA-India website.
2009: The FIBA Asia Championship for Women was held in Chennai, India finished 6th.
2010: The Mahindra-NBA Challenge begins in Mumbai.

Early on, with basketball growing at such a quick pace in India, the game produced several notable talents. Many basketball stars in India have since been awarded the Arjuna Award (to recognize the contribution of a player and his outstanding achievement in sports) and the Dhyan Chand Award (for Life Time Achievement in Sports and Games has been instituted from the year 2002 to honour those sportspersons who have contributed to sports by their performance and continue to contribute to promotion of sports even after their retirement from active sporting career).

Arjuna Award

SARABJIT SINGH (Services) - 1961
KHUSHI RAM (Services) - 1967
GURDIAL SINGH (Services) - 1968
HARI DUTT (Services) - 1969
ABBAS MOONTASIR (Maharashtra & Railways) - 1970
MANMOHAN SINGH (Punjab & Services) - 1971
SURINDER K. KATARIA (Rajasthan & Railways) - 1973
ANIL PUNJ (Punjab) - 1974
HANUMAN SINGH (Rajasthan & Railways) - 1975
VIJAYRAGHVAN (Tamil Nadu & Bihar) - 1977
OM PRAKASH (Sr.) (Services) - 1979
AJMER SINGH (Rajasthan & Railways) - 1981
RADHEY SHYAM (Services) - 1982
SUMAN SHARMA (Punjab) - 1983
PARMINDER SINGH (Sr.) (Punjab) - 2001

Dhyan Chand Award

APARNA GHOSH (West Bengal & Railways) - 2001
RAM KUMAR (Railways) - 2002

Unfortunately, our domestic successes and interest has never translated into international recognition. From the late 60s and early 80s, there were many talented ball players that featured in the Indian hoops scene.

There is only one woman on the Arjuna awards list - Suman Sharma in 1983. With our women's team showing drastic improvements in recent years, there is no doubt that many more female players will be given this distinction in the future.

The newly-launched Mastan League, India's first fully professional basketball league, which is currently taking place at the Mastan YMCA in Mumbai, has the promise to usher bigger events for Indian basketball. I wonder if it will also be remembered as a major milestone in the future...

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