Published: 26th September 2017
NBA MD wants basketball to reach the grassroots and he is shooting for it with this academy
NBA India recently opened an academy to provide world-class training opportunities to aspiring basketball players. Yannick Colaco talks about its perks
In a country so obsessed with cricket, it's hard for any other sport to capture the attention of the people. Yet, every now and then, a Satnam Singh Bhamara or a Palpreet Singh emerges, proving that there's no dearth of talent here and that we have what it takes to make it big in other sports as well.
That's exactly what NBA India is capitalising on. Established in 2009, with the intention of promoting basketball in India, NBA India recently opened an academy to provide world-class training opportunities to aspiring basketball players.
Yannick Colaco, Managing Director of NBA India, who has been at the helm of the organisation's immense progress in generating interest for the game in India, says, "There’s a tremendous amount of talent in the country. What we do is work with all the stakeholders, and make sure that kids have access to equal facilities and opportunities to become successful basketball players from a young age."
Go shoot: Yannick Colaco vouches for the talent in the country but acknowledges the fact that we all the stakeholders
NBA India works from the grassroots-level to high-performance programmes. The junior NBA programme that was launched four years ago, is one of the biggest initiatives of the organisation, reaching out to more than six million kids across 19 states in the country.
"What we do through this programme is incorporate basketball into the school curriculum. Basketball, as a sport, is perfectly suited for the Indian society. It’s a simple game and it doesn’t require much except a ground and a hoop. It’s a sport which helps children imbibe positive values. So we’re trying to get parents to see how it can benefit their children," says Yannick.
Ball's in your court: NBA India recently opened an academy to provide world-class training opportunities to aspiring basketball players
In May this year, the NBA Academy was launched in New Delhi, where twenty-two male prospects, who were selected following a three-month, nationwide basketball talent search, received scholarships and are being trained with the best of facilities. "We have three indoor basketball courts, a swimming pool, a gym, strength training experts and career development coaches. We also ensure their academics are not ignored," Yannick informs us. The academy may just be six months old, yet it already has two of their players in the Under-18 category who have been selected to play in the national team. "In the coming years, the quality of our junior players will improve rapidly because they’re going to be getting the best training throughout the year," adds Yannick.
We often get NBA stars to visit the academy. That gives the kids a chance to interact with their idols; it’s a big opportunity. Kevin Durant, Isaiah Thomas and Seth Curry were some of the NBA stars who visited India to inspire these kids
Yannick Colaco, Managing Director of NBA India
When asked how widespread their talent hunt was, Yannick says, "Talent isn’t restricted to geography. We want kids from all sections of society to have the same opportunities," adding that they have a few players in the academy who are from underprivileged backgrounds.
And obviously, operating under the NBA banner is bound to have its perks. "We often get NBA stars to visit the academy. That gives the kids a chance to interact with their idols; it’s a big opportunity. Kevin Durant, Isaiah Thomas and Seth Curry were some of the NBA stars who visited India to inspire these kids," says Yannick.