September 19, 2011

Why Basketball? 7 young ballers reveal what drew them to love playing hoops

In its immense length, breadth, and variety, there are few if any countries as unique as India. In the basketball realm, this uniqueness is reinforced during the national championships, where state teams from nearly every single corner of the country come together for a week or 10 days to take part in a colourful basketball festival. Within a matter of hours, the same basketball court could witness players who speak Hindi, English, Marathi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, Mizo, and a host of other languages.

The city of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh is currently hosting the Sub-Jr (U-14) National Championship: and what makes this level of basketball nationals even more special is that fact that the sub-juniors (or the ‘mini’ as it used to be known) features the youngest members of the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) family. For most of the young kids in this tournament, this championship is their first taste of the growing nationwide basketball society in India: those that grew up playing basketball in Kerala will realise that Gujarati players follow a similar regime to their known; those who were trained in Assam see that players from Andhra Pradesh shoot the same way.

Their backgrounds, languages, social standings, religions, and schooling may be different: but these kids share two things in common – their age level, and their love for the game of basketball.

This presented a wonderful opportunity to find out what brought them all together to this game. Why choose basketball? From an inspiring older sibling, to a motivating coach, to an unexplainable, inbred affection for the game, here are seven 13-year-olds from around India who discuss what drew them to love playing hoops. See if you share any of the same stories:

Asmita Nain from Kaithal, Haryana

“When I was young, I used to watch my seniors play in school, and I felt that this could be my game. When I got into basketball, it was just like getting into any other hobby, but during the course of my learning, I came across an important quote that made me realise that this was really the game for me. On a notice-board in school, I saw the words: ‘Basketball is 90 percent mental, and ten percent physical’, and this is something I agreed with.”

Sambed Prasad from Bangalore, Karnataka

“I’m quite tall for my age, and so naturally, I was encouraged to try out this game. One of my father’s friends was a former distinguished player and he suggested to us that, with my height, I could have good potential. I immediately began to like the game myself because it is so fast-paced!”

Samita Lama from Maligaon, Guwahati, Assam

“I have an older cousin sister back in Assam who used to play very well. She played in several Nationals and told interesting stories about them. I was very encouraged by her. Then, my father also wanted me to get into this game and wanted me to become a good player. He introduced me to a good coach in the local stadium in my town, and from then onwards, my game started to improve!”

Rahul Hitesh Purohit from Vadodara, Gujarat

“Basketball is a fast-paced and enjoyable game. I picked the game up only as a hobby at first to stay fit, but soon it became my passion, and now I’m at the Nationals!”

Nikhil Narayan from Chennai, Tamil Nadu

“My family has been playing basketball for several generations. I started playing it when I was just in UKG, when I was just four or five years old! I had a great coach back home who taught me the game I grew older and helped me develop. I was also inspired by NBA players that I watched on TV and I wanted to play like them. Basketball is a good game that helps us stay healthy. But for me it’s more than that: I feel that this game is part of my nature.”

Zaid Sheikh from Mumbai, Maharashtra

“I can’t think of any other game besides from basketball – from the time I was eight years old, I picked up the basketball and then, never practiced any other game! I was inspired by my older brother who also played the game. I saw a certain style and energy in it when he played it and I liked it.”

Shaffy Garg from Mansa District, Punjab

“I used to watch older players in my school play basketball, and I was very attracted to it. I started playing, but at first, there were no girls in my school who played basketball, so I used to play with the boys! It was only later on that I began playing the game with girls! Basketball is the game that I understand the best, and that is why I stick with it.”

Now, reader: tell me your story? What made you choose basketball?

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