For the National Basketball Association (NBA), India isn’t just a country to hawk their wares. Sure, there are over 200 exclusive stores selling licensed merchandise. But the name that is, for all practical purposes, synonymous with professional basketball the world over is also keen on developing the sport at the grassroots, without asking for a buck in return.
By its third year, the junior NBA programme aims to touch a million kids. As of now, it’s been nearly a month since the ball was set rolling in over a 100 schools of the country’s financial capital. And it isn’t just the elite.
“Of the 108 schools that have signed up for the programme in Mumbai, around 45 are BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) schools,” Yannick Colaco, managing director of NBA India, told HT.
The equipment is provided by the organisers; for schools that lack the infrastructure, training is conducted at the nearest YMCA.
Aimed at school kids from Class IV through X, the programme plans to incorporate basketball in the school curriculum.
“We bring in five foreign coaches to every city, each coaching PT teachers in 20 schools and then supervising the PT teachers as they train the kids,” explained Colaco.
“It’s a three-month programme, with one class of basketball per week.”
In its opening year, the programme is limited to one metro and one Tier-II city (next up, starting Nov 11, is Cochin); next year’s target is six cities.
“By year three, we plan to touch a million kids and 2,000 teachers in 1,000 schools across 10 cities,” said Colaco.