When I was younger, ‘NBA in India’ meant little more than waking up at 6 in the morning to watch live television games, playing with rare trading cards between my friends, and receiving copies of SLAM magazine as perhaps their only subscriber in Varanasi. The internet changed everything, but despite being connected through World Wide Web, the league was still miles away in the real world.
For the new generation of NBA fans in the country, the league isn’t just a far off entity that is experienced solely through satellite feeds, web pages, or snail mail. With the increasing efforts of the league to have a presence in India and to capitalize on India’s burgeoning population of hoop fans, the NBA brand is now in our cities and towns, with recreational leagues, coaching camps, special events, and of course, with the occasional presence of a former or current NBA great.
The NBA opened its first office in India in Mumbai in October 2011, but despite their large aspirations, remained a small operation in terms of actual manpower. This week, they added to that manpower with a new staff member who could help them provide a major boost to their growing operations in India.
NBA India has hired Yannick Colaco as their Managing Director this week. The Goan Colaco spent the previous ten years of his career working with Nimbus Sport – the company behind Neo Sports/Neo Prime, etc. – and was their Chief Operating Officer from 2009 till recently. Colaco will join a team that includes Senior Director for Development Akash Jain and the omnipresent Senior Director of Basketball Operations Superhero Troy Justice amongst others in the NBA India office.
Colaco himself played basketball at the national university level in India. According to at report on IndianTelevision.com, Colaco will be responsible to lead the growth of the league in India and will help to continue the participation of young Indian players to play basketball in partnership with the Basketball Federation of India (BFI). He will also be involved in working with the NBA’s relationship with their media, marketing, and merchandising partners, as well as further improving their social media presence in the country.
“The sports market in India is poised for significant growth and as basketball participation increases further, there is a tremendous opportunity for the NBA,” said Colaco, “The league has a strong staff in Mumbai and I look forward to joining their efforts to carry out the NBA’s mission to grow basketball in India.”
Colaco will be reporting to Heidi Ueberroth, the President of NBA international. “Yannick Colaco has the ideal combination of experience and knowledge of the sports landscape in India necessary to lead our expanding operations in the country,” she said, “Basketball is on the rise in India and we are thrilled to have Yannick lead our extremely talented staff as we build towards the future.”
Prior to Nimbus Sport, Colaco worked with IMG, which is the company that is now working in partnership with the BFI.
So another step forward we hope. And as much as I miss the good ‘ol days when the tiny-printed words in a month old magazine were enough to quench my NBA thirst, I’m excited for the league’s bold new future in India. Good luck Yannick – hope you lead us to better times!