‘Tremendous long-term opportunity for basketball in India’

National Basketball Association is committed to make destination next for hoopster. The approach is professional. Get young talent on board and culminate them into mega stars. No charity is this. NBA programme from the school level involves a tuition fee. But, overall structure is planned in a way that the ones with ability and commitment get opportunities and platform as they progress up the ladder. NBA last week has announced its shcool initiative in Mumbai. This will soon move to other cities. In an exclusive interview to InsideSport, Yannick Colaco, MD NBA India spells out NBA’s future plans and what it has in store for India.

InsideSport. What is the NBA Schools initiative. How will it work?
Yannick Colaco : NBA Basketball School is a network of tuition-based basketball development programs around the world open to international male and female players ages 6-18. This new initiative adds an additional layer to the NBA’s existing basketball development efforts, including the Jr. NBA, Basketball without Borders (BWB) and NBA Academies
NBA Basketball School curriculum, which is designed to help players, parents, coaches and organizations better understand the process of improvement, has been developed by the NBA’s Elite Basketball Development team in consultation with current and former NBA coaches, former NBA players, and player development experts. The Comprehensive curriculum covers on-court training, strength and conditioning, and basketball education and will be implemented by local coaches working directly with the NBA’s International Basketball Operations staff around the world.

IS. The initiative is launched from Mumbai. What is your plan of expansion. Which other cities have been identified?
YC : The NBA Basketball School in Mumbai builds on the NBA’s existing basketball and youth development initiatives in India. Additional NBA Basketball Schools will be launched in India and around the world in the coming months. For India specifically, we will be adding additional venues for the schools in Mumbai and expanding to other cities inside the next 6 months.

IS. How is it different than and how will it integrate with Jr NBA, BwB and NBA Academies?
YC: NBA Basketball schools adds an additional layer to the NBA’s existing basketball development efforts in India, including the Jr. NBA, Basketball without Borders (BWB) and NBA Academies.
The Jr. NBA, the league’s global youth basketball participation programme for boys and girls, will help identify young players who have the talent to attend NBA Basketball Schools. From there, the top players at each NBA Basketball School will have the opportunity to be selected to attend NBA Academies, the league’s network of elite basketball training centers around the world to develop top international male and female prospects. Registration to attend the NBA Basketball School in Mumbai is now open at indiaontrack.nba.com.

IS. How do you foresee NBA’s growth in India as a business model?
YC: Our primary focus is to grow the game of basketball in India and continue to grow our fan base in the country. In addition to our basketball development initiatives, we continue to provide greater access of the NBA to our growing legion of fans and continue to find ways to engage them better. Our partnership with Sony Six now sees 14 live NBA games a week broadcast to Television homes across the country, our social media presence continues to grow and currently engages over 4 Million fans in India, NBAStore.in (in partnership with Jabong) has delivered NBA and basketball products to over 250 cities / towns across the country in just the last few months, and we continue to localize our content through shows like Around the Hoop (wrap around studio show for Live games every Sunday morning) and NBA Hangout (weekly topical NBA show which combines basketball and lifestyle, in an Indian context)

IS NBA in India is confined primarily to junior or training programmes. What next? When do we see the NBA standards in competitive sports in India? Any plans and steps in that direction?
YC: Be it football, basketball, cricket or any other sport, for it to grow well, the most fundamental requirement is to get the foundation right. We need to have a strong, robust, well-developed grassroots focused programs. We have a large program which is focused on getting more kids to play from 6-14. There is tremendous long-term opportunity for basketball in India. Basketball is fantastic form of exercise which also teaches youth important life lessons such as teamwork, communication, sportsmanship and discipline. The NBA has been active in the market for over 5 years with a focus on growing participation and building the league’s fan base.
The league utilizes its brand and expertise in basketball to grow the game globally which has resulted in over one-fourth of the players in the NBA coming from outside the U.S. This is consistent with our approach in India – we continue to focus on creating grassroots programs which allow youth to learn, participate and enjoy the game.

IS . In a nation obsessed with cricket, soccer, badminton and kabaddi struggle to make a profitable space in spite of having professional leagues? How do you look at Basketball as a business in India?
YC: Basketball is a game which is ideally suited to India. For participation, it is infrastructure “lite”, all you need is a flat surface, a Ball and a Hoop. From a fan perspective, it combines fast paced action, intense competition, non-stop entertainment and Global Superstars, all packaged in a short time frame of under 2.5 hours. The youth of India have already demonstrated their demand for these characteristics in sport, both through their consumption of the IPL and through the tremendous response we have already seen for the NBA in a short period of time.