Indian basketball face another jolt after they fail to send a team to the Under 16 qualifiers
Prior to any big Asian tournament, the Indian basketball teams across all categories (seniors, U16, U18) are required to play a qualifying tournament called the South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) qualifiers in order to progress to the main event.
This qualifying tournament doesn’t really pose any major challenges for the Indians as they have the likes of Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Maldives to tackle.
However, for the first team, this year, India were left embarrassed as they couldn’t even send an U16 team for the qualifiers that were held in Dhaka last week because of a power struggle at the Basketball Federation of India (BFI).
What makes the situation even more disappointing is that every time India has featured in the SABA qualifiers, they have always clinched gold and in the previous 3 editions of the tournament had finished 10th, 10th and 11th.
Confirming the news a day ahead of the qualifiers, a source from FIBA Asia said,"As things stands, BFI is under a 'freeze'. Therefore India cannot participate in the U16 qualifiers."
However, these struggles not only affected India’s participation in the qualifiers, it had an other ramification as well. India had a rare chance to host a major Asian tournament when the FIBA U16 Asian Badminton Championships were awarded to Bengaluru and were scheduled to be held between July 2nd and 12th, but due to the issues within the federation, the venue was changed to Jakarta and the dates were also postponed to October.
The issues within the federation involved two opposing executive committees, each of whom wanted their own way.In March, two separate meeting were held on different dates in different places to decide the leadership body of the BFI.
No clear candidate to head the federation
One group chose K Govindraj as the President of the federation while the other opted for Poonam Mahajan. Until a clear candidate was chosen to head the federation, India were barred from competing or hosting any FIBA tournaments.
Strangely, though, despite being disqualified from taking part in the SABA qualifiers last month, the U16 players were asked to assemble in a selection camp in Pune.
Indian basketball has been growing through tumultous times recently. Earlier this month, Scott Flemming,who played an instruemtal role in the Indian men’s team’s good performance in recent times, resigned from his post as the Head Coach as he received an opportunity to work with an NCAA team in the United States.
This, though is another example of how because of a poor administrative structure in this country, the players are once again forced to warm their feet in hot water and not represent their countries in major tournaments around the world.
It is an issue that needs to be looked at closely in the future and we must at all costs ensure that regardless of all the problems faced off the field, those issues don’t affect the players on it.