New York: Basketball is predominantly a growing sport in India but the United States-based National Basketball Association (NBA) has plans to make the game the "second most dominant" sport in the country besides cricket.
The popularity of NBA is incomparable worldwide and India is no exception as the nation has a rich fan following of the sport, predominantly among the youths and that is what the NBA trying to target.
"In India we can never compete with cricket and we never plan to do that. India is a cricket crazy nation and we know that. But our aim is to make basketball the second most dominant sport in India. The youths of India are looking for opportunity other than regular sport and that is what we targeting at," NBA India managing director Yannick Colaco told PTI on the sidelines of the popular NBA All Star Weekend, here on Friday.
"We are consciously trying to customise and package out product so that it is assessable in India and make it a primetime product which is not easy considering the time difference between India and the US," he said.
"But the good thing is that basketball is very popular among Indian youths. Interestingly, 30 per cent of our viewers in India are female."
The NBA knows the importance of taking the game to the nook and corner of the country to grow the interest for the sport among the Indians.
"We have made a conscious effort to take the game to smaller cities in India i.e. beyond metros. The response in smaller cities and towns have been tremendous," Colaco said.
Without a dedicated fan base and following, it would take some time for basketball to prove its potential on the Indian market but the NBA India is working hard to address these issues.
"In 2013 NBA Jam, the 3 is to 3 college festival was held in just 4 cities but this year 16 cities and 3,000 teams have participated in the event. We have taken the game to two-tier cities like Guwahati, Cochin, Lucknow, Jaipur, Nagpur, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Bhubaneshwar, Indore, Hyderabad, and Pune," Colaco said.
"We are also working in collaboration with the Basketball Federation of India to develop the game in the country. The Indian Under-16 girls team had recently visited an NBA academy in China to gain exposure," he said.