I’ve incessantly harped upon the easy accessibility of basketball, when compared to other sports. All you need is a ball and a hoop and you’re good to go. In the space taken up by one football field or one cricket field, you could fit in tens of basketball courts. Although by comparison basketball is a relatively easier sport to find a playing area for, in order to pursue the sport in a competitive fashion at a high level you do need a proper basketball court to play on.
To develop a sport at he grassroots level, you have to lower the entry barrier and make it as accessible as possible. The NBA in its initiative to promote and develop the sport in India has taken steps to bring some courts up to par in India. Yannick Colaco, MD NBA India, took the time to elaborate on how the NBA goes about it.
How many courts has the NBA refurbished in India and with whose collaboration?
Yannick Colaco: The NBA and its partners have refurbished six courts in India (five in Mumbai, one in Chennai). Costs vary for each site and are dependent on location, condition of court and material. We partnered with HP and BFI to build these six courts. This is part of our on-going commitment to facilitate access to the game via grassroots programs and courts.
What’s the process for scouting a court/potential area for a court? What are the factors influencing the choice?
Yannick Colaco: We have a very deliberate and organised process for scouting potential sites. We will visit and review a proposed site with our partner(s) to gauge the condition of the court and to gather necessary facts (ie ownership of land, need of the local community, legacy plan – who will use the court, how often it will be used and maintenance). There are many factors influencing choice of a site, including: site location, strength of a local partner amongst other things.
What’s the process for getting permission from the relevant bodies?
Yannick Colaco: The local organisation with whom we partner with is generally responsible for securing permissions. This varies case by case.
They say if you teach a man to fish, you teach him to feed himself for life. All some kids need is an introduction to the sport of basketball and there is no limit to the extent of difference it can make in their lives. Even if they don’t end up playing professionally, there is a lot the game teaches you about sportsmanship, value of hard work and discipline, and helps in building character. Building courts in India, which are top notch, gives the kids here an opportunity to explore an entirely different world housed between the four lines.
A basketball court is 91’10.4″ by 49’2.6″ in dimensions. To construct a surface like that which isn’t simply a concrete floor runs into expenses; which the NBA has borne.
Check out an in-depth interview with Yannick Colaco here: ‘There is a tremendous untapped potential for basketball in India’