31 May 2009

Young talents in Basketball to be groomed

Nepal Basketball Association (NeBA) is launching an advanced training scheme for talented basketballers. Basically they are going with a modified academy approach. Thirty boys and 15 girls will receive scholarships to study and train regularly at one of three prominent colleges in Kathmandu.

Instead of bemoaning the lack of government and private sector support, it is great to see a sports association taking some initiative and trying to implement development strategies. Whether NeBA's plans will be short lived or a grand success is uncertain, but at least they're rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty.

No matter what the football apologists (which includes me) might say, basketball is now perhaps the most popular sport at education institutions in Nepal, from schools to colleges. The limited space required to build a basketball court and the popularity of the NBA are contributing factors. While I do not see much scope internationally for Nepali basketball, our genes our our weakness - I am only 5'10 and I feel like a giant on the streets of Kathmandu, but domestically the game has a big upside.

If well organized and marketed, I am quite optimistic that a basketball league, with cheerleaders, loud music, prizes, etc. could be all the rage amongst the younger and more educated segments of society who would be quite exposed to the sport during their school days. The Philippines is an example of a country where basketball is wildly popular despite being irrelevant on the international scene. Perhaps Nepali basketball will find a similar fate and for sure the new basketball initiative is a great start to developing the sport in the country.