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IBPA holds 6th Basketball E-Conclave to discuss Challenges in Promoting Basketball in Schools

New Delhi, July 28: Integrated Basketball Players Association (IBPA), a unique association of Indian Basketball players, along with Indian Basketball Fans organised the 6th Basketball E-Conclave to discuss 'Challenges in Promoting Basketball in Schools.'

The conclave was dedicated to a former international player, Arjuna Awardee (Late) Shri Khushi Ram who was also known as the Scoring machine. The Panelist for this session were Fr Crispino Dsouza, Director Don Bosco High School, Mumbai, Sr Shilpa CSST Principal Mount Carmel HSS, Kottayam, Vinod Vacahani Head of Physical education and Sports Welham Girls School, Dehradun and Khushiwinder, former International and ONGC player who is actively involved in developing the game to underprivileged.

The conclave rolled the dice as a former international basketball player and teammate of Khusi Ram Rajagopal Kadambi paid tribute to him. Rajgopal recalled, "Khusi Ram was a formidable player and he used to play for services. During those days services had to pivots in the name of Khusi Ram and Sarbjit Singh. It was very difficult for the opponents to keep them for scoring."

"I remember the final match of Cuttack National where I was playing against the services and Khusi Ram along with Sarbjit scored one after another. We lost the match with a narrow margin but these two players were the scoring machine for services," added Rajgopal.

Rajgopal remembered his days with Khusi Ram at NIS Patiala, "Khusi was a very hardworking and dedicated player. He used to get up an early train and then do his rest of the chores but there was not a single that he would miss the practice. With all this, he was very humble and a gentleman."

Another Arjuna awardee Surendra Kumar Kataria, who represented Shri Ram Rayons Club in the late 70s and 80s with Khusi Ram recalled his association with the legend and said, "He was a very hard working person and was always keen to do better at the court. I appreciate the gesture shown by IBPA to recognize legends like Khusi Ram."

Mr Kuldeep Singh Cheema, a former international player from Punjab fondly remembered the tips given by Khushi Ram Ji while playing. Mr Sajjan Singh Cheema, the President of IBPA, said, "I saw Khusi Ramji as a coach and she was a very hardworking person and a brilliant coach. He used to encourage me whenever I played well eve though I played against his team. He gave players like Ram Kumar, Ajmer, Ashok and this shows his dedication towards the sport."

Ram Kumar, son of Khushi Ram and Dhronacharya awardee and International player spoke about his father and said, "My father was so dedicated, that he used to come back from night shift and used to attend the training. It was my father who taught me the techniques of the game. I remember the proud moment when my father was adjusted as the best player in Thailand ABC and was the top scorer."

"As a coach, he had a better understanding of players and he had the art of making people understand things which were a rare quality in coaches during those times," concluded Ram Kumar.

Source: Media Release

Soon after the dedication Jayasankar Menon, Asian All-Star player and General Secretary of IBPA and Mr J Balakrishnan former International player introduced the panellists.

Fr.Crispino Dsouza, in his opening remarks Fr Crispino Dsouza, Director Don Bosco High School, Mumbai in his opening remarks shared his three decades experience in developing the game in schools and set the ball rolling with his observation that the Infrastructure for basketball at school level has to improve.

Fr Crispino's remarks were supported by Sr Sr.Shilpa as she mentioned how her school without proper infrastructure and funds are able to produce many international players. She also pointed out that her school was one of the first schools to start school level Basketball tournaments in the state.

Sr Shilpa also went on to say "Our school has produced six international level basketball players and even today they receive nominal support from the state and central government. We receive Rs 20 per player from the State Government which is very less."

Vinod Vachani joined in the discussion as he suggested sharing of infrastructure as he said, "Indian schools lack proper infrastructure for the development of sports and in order to build talent in the country those schools who have good facilities and better infrastructure they need to share their facilities with those who do not have that privilege. Only then the game can grow in India."

Vachani's comments were completely supported by Khushvinder who is working with underprivileged children in Uttar Pradesh as he said, "Underprivileged kids have huge talent and of we want the sport to grow in India we need to tap the talent of such kids and we need to nurture them. I also vouch that schools with better infrastructure should share their facilities with these underprivileged kids so that they can also grow and we can unearth their true potential."

Further discussing the role of corporate houses in promoting the game Sr Shilpa Said, "We receive very less and we need more corporate houses to come forward and help us. We have produced players like Geethu Anna Jose and still, we have no idea how to get support from the corporate house which is a major hindrance in promoting basketball in schools."

Vinod Vachani gave the example of ONGC who has produced many international basketball players as he said, "Corporate houses like ONGC and IOB work a great deal to promote the sport. ONGC has one of the finest facilities to promote the sport and such corporates bring the best minds at one place where they learn, they share and they grow together. So corporate play a major role in promoting the sport."

Moderator Balakrishnan quizzed about the role of parents in promoting the game to which Fr Thomas answered. "In metro cities like Mumbai we see a lot of support from parents. Nowadays we see a lot of 3*3 tournaments on the weekend and we can see the stadiums and courts be filled with parents supporting their kids so we can see a lot of support in the cities."

Sr Sheela also echoed the same sentiments as Fr Crispino as she said, "We also get a lot of support from the parents. On many occasions, Parents willingly accompany us as the team managers which helps us a lot."

When the moderator asked about how much does organising tournaments in schools and calling former and current basketball players from schools to help in popularising the sport Dsouza said, "Savio Cup was one of the major tournaments that helped the sport to grow in schools. We have seen jam-packed courts and students idealizing their favourite players. This helps to create a hero in the eyes of students and they connect with the sport. The tournament also helped us raise a lot of funds which we later used to better our infrastructure."

Sr Shilpa said, "When they felicitated Geethu Anna Jose in the school the girls of the schools were very keen to see her. They were very excited and I am sure that must have motivated them a lot."

Vinod Vachani also laid emphasis on the need to share information among players among coaches and among administrators. He said, "As basketball fraternity, we need to understand that we have to share the knowledge. Senior and former players should share it with their juniors. Coaches need to share information among themselves. It is time to give up the chalta hai attitude."

We also need to learn the difference between a PE Teacher and a coach. A PE teacher is the jack of all trades but it will be unjust to think that he can be a coach. We need to treat a coach as a coach."

The panellist also discussed on the myth that players cannot be good at academics as Vinod conveyed that parents should also understand that playing the game would only improve the mental concentration and the kids would fare well in the academy also. He mentioned two of the schoolgirls who had scored very high marks in the public exams with three centum are basketball players.

Sanjana Ramesh, who got NCAA Division I Basketball Scholarship USA participated in the conclave as a special guest. Ms.Sanjana who captained the Indian team in the Asian Women's Basketball Championship and was adjusted as MVP shared her viewpoint that hard work and dedication would definitely give results. She explained how she got the scholarship and also educated a few youngsters about the procedure. She endorsed the views of Mr.Vinod that players can shine both in sports and in the academy.

Balakrishnan wanted the panellists to share their experience about Khelo India School Games. The last edition of the games was held at Chandigarh and more than 12 states participated with 190 players. Khelo India School Games is a concept introduced by Govt., of India for development of sports at the grass-root level with the objective of mass participation and developing excellence.

Except Sr Shipla others were not aware of such events. Sister stated that only two players from her school were part of the team. All the panellists unanimously expressed that they are not aware of the format or procedure of selection.

While going through the official website of KISG we come across that the talent would be developed at grassroots by conducting Dist., level and State level tournaments by School Games Federation of India ( and Federations. But the panellists were not aware of such are events taking place in their districts or state. SGFI and their presence should be made to each and every school in the country. Unless we have a transparent approach in the selection, the game at School level will not improve.

Towards the end of the session moderator, Balakrishnan invited suggestions as to what majorly needs to be dine-in order to promote basketball at school level all panellists echoed the same sentiment that agencies like BFI, NBA India and others should come together and join forces to develop the sport as one rather than working in their own interests.

Fr Dsouza while narrating the presence of various agencies like Federation, Associations, NBA, SGFI, IBPA and some other sports development boards should be brought to one umbrella to get the best out of the School talent. IBPA can take the initiative to bring all these and have a transparent approach.

Jayasankar Menon suggested that big corporate houses who are having good teams like ONGC, Indian Bank, IOB, Railways, Customs, KSEB, Income Tax, ICF, SBI should come forward and adopt a village or school in developing the game.

Balakrishnan suggested that these corporate houses can give their CSR funds in building infrastructure in schools. It can be even by way of Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT).

The topic came to the School Professional league. All the panellists opined it's high time we have started the league. Before starting the league, in the same format of Khelo India School Games, the infrastructure at each district level should be improved. The professional coaching staff should be provided to these centres and they should teach basketball professionally.

The game which was called intellectual game has become a power game and so strength and conditioning should be given importance at the grassroots. The all India league for school should be having a media partner which would project the stars from schools as heroes of gen-next. The conclave concluded on a positive note that If we come together we can break the mould.

Source: Media Release

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Story first published: Tuesday, July 28, 2020, 20:46 [IST]
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