The Future of Women’s Basketball in India
In the recent years, basketball in India is experiencing a major boom among the younger generation. This Asian giant is developing in all areas of everyday life, starting from the economy through industry and at last, sports. Basketball is one of the fastest growing parts of the Indian sport. We have witnessed a massive expansion of NBA league here, after Sim Bhullar made a professional debut for the Sacramento Kings back in 2015. Later that year, Satnam Singh Bhamara was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks as the 52nd pick. He is currently a member of Texas Legends, a Development League affiliate of Dallas Mavericks.
All these significant events attracted many young people, and especially women, to start playing basketball. Also, female basketball in India is a huge market which could potentially produce many great talents. With the population of 1 billion and 300 million people, India has the resources to become one of the leading nations in women’s basketball. The process of emancipation among the female population of this Asian country is underway, and more and more girls are starting to play this beautiful game. In the previous times, because of conservative traditions, young girls weren’t allowed to participate in the activities such as this one. Luckily, that is now changed.
Seven years ago, the Basketball Federation of India and IMG Reliance started a partnership, with a goal to improve the overall condition of basketball in India and to take the whole organization and the quality to the next level. This also applies to women’s basketball. Now, young girls have the opportunity to spend time in the United States in order to improve their skills and to be a part of entirely different kind of training. The most talented are receiving a scholarship at IMG Florida, and after they finish their education, they can go back to India and play in their league, which was the original thought. With all the knowledge which they bring from the United States, those players are helping enormously to others, especially the younger generations. New training sessions, work ethics, new ideas, and trends are being passed over to the players who didn’t have a chance to go overseas, or to the ones who plan to do it.
The Basketball Federation is monitoring all youth levels and selections, and they are picking the best prospects. But at this point, the quality of the game still didn’t reach the expected heights. The Indian woman basketball team is currently in the second division of Asian competitions. During the FIBA women Asia Cup in 2015, which took place in China, India lost all 5 group games with a total margin of minus 273 points. In the end, they played against the Philippines to preserve the status in the First division, but unfortunately, they lost with 82-76.
The sleeping Giants as the fans like to call them, are currently in the 40th place at FIBA rankings, but they have huge aspirations in the near future. From 23rd until 29th of the July, FIBA women’s Asian Cup will be held in India. The home federation appointed the Serbian coach Zoran Visic as the new head of the national team. Visic already started changing many things, regarding the whole approach to both the game and the training. The experienced coach has a vast and wealthy background which is probably why the Basketball Federation of India wanted him as the new head coach. K Govindaraj, the president of the Federation, announced his arrival as a turning point in the Indian female basketball.
The first goal for India is to reach back into the top division of Asian basketball, and they will have a chance to do it pretty soon, on their own court. The Indian team is very young, and most of the girls have between 18 and 24 years. It is probably why they were relegated in the first place. They lacked experience at that time. Besides this, the main problem, according to the newly appointed coach, is the height. Most of the players are under 6 foot 2. The only one with extreme height is Poonam Chaturvedi who is 6 foot 11.
As the time goes by, we are confident that this problem is going to be also solved, but for now, the area under the rim is the most vulnerable in their game. The biggest stars of this team are Jeena Scaria, 5 foot 10 power forward, who is one of the best players in Asia. She is only 23 years old and has a bright future in front of her. Scaria was a projected to be the leader of the Indian team since she showed up. At the age of 14, she was discovered and immediately the Basketball Federation focused on her development. At the age of 18, she became one of the best players in whole Asia for that age, and she was sent to various camps to perfect her skills and abilities. Today, Scaria is an inspiration for many Indian girls.
Kavita Akula a 21-year-old point guard became the first player from India to receive a full basketball scholarship at NCAA Division 1 College. She is currently a Garden City Community College regular member and on of its best players.
With the home crowd behind them, several years of experience more, a coach who knows how to win important tournaments and how to improve the quality of the team, Indian women have a good chance to go back to the First Division.
When we look to the distant future, we might expect for this team to become one of the best in Asia. But, a lot of hard work is ahead of them, and they still need to fill in some critical positions on their roster. The network of scouts needs to be more developed because, among more than 600 million females in this country, you sure can find some talent.
All in all, India has a potential to become one solid nation regarding female basketball, and their future looks bright.