Basketball academy in Guwahati to tap talents in Northeast

New Delhi: With an aim to popularise the game in the Far East and scout talents from unchartered territory, the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) has come up with a state-of-an-art academy in Guwahati.

The academy, established in memory of former CEO of the federation, Harish Sharma, will emphasise on developing basketball in the northeastern region of India besides scouting talent in the age group of 14 to 16 years in both boys and girls category.

"It will be an in-house facility and will aim to popularise the game among kids in the seven states of northeast and will also scout talented player from the region for further exposure," the incumbent CEO and wife of Harish Sharma, said Roopam Sharma.

The opening ceremony of the `Harish Sharma North East Basketball Academy` will be held on April 9 at Hengrabari Basketball ground in Dispur, she informed.

The new chief conceded the road ahead will not be easy but insisted on bringing in more professionalism into the sport and carry forward the rich legacy left behind by her husband.

"My husband has taken the game to a new level, now its my responsibility to take the game to even bigger height with the help of my colleagues.

"My first objective is to bring in more professionalism into the game of basketball, where in the responsibilities of the state units are clearly demarcated and there are more defined rules. We also need to take more pro-active initiatives," she insisted.

Emphasising on the lack of quality coaches in India, Roopam said the federation intends to bring in more foreign experts to guide the current breed of trainers.

"We intend to hire more foreign coaching staff to assist our national coaches. They will also share their experience with the local coaches, which will help them to understand the game in a better way," she reiterated.

"BFI is also going to host the `Train the Trainer` coaches clinic, which will aim to spread out the basketball experience to a greater population," Roopam revealed.

The first-of-its-kind clinic, which will be held at the city`s Indira Gandhi Stadium from April 13, will invite coaches from all across the country to spread their knowledge about the game.

About the growth of the sport and its access to non-urban centers of the country, Roopam said "No sport can grow until its career-oriented" and added that her federation was working to providing its wards with more foreign exposure apart from giving them the periodical incentives, an initiative that was started by her predecessor.

Roopam also informed that the BFI will submit a proposal to Sports Minister Ajay Makan to request the annual Indian invitational tournament, in tribute to Harish Sharma, be made an international event instead of a domestic one.

"There has been a discussion between the BFI and Mr Makan to create the tournament and we are in the process of putting together the modalities. This would be the first such international event held regularly in India," she said.

Meanwhile, the CEO will be heading to Sri Lanka later this month for the FIBA Asia Middle Asia Zone meeting to select a new secretary general of the FIBA Middle Asia Zone, a position that was held by her late husband.

Roopam also said that the BFI will be sending the Under-14 boys and girls to participate in the 10th Flanders Basketball Trophy which will be held in Ghent, Belgium in August and insisted more such trips will be scheduled in future.

"It will be the first time that the BFI will send U-14 boys and girls overseas to participate in an international tournament, marking a big step in facilitating the development of basketball in India and developing the talent at the youngest level," she said.