Basketball is now a very popular sport in India with many different teams for all levels up and down the country. Every sport has to start somewhere and it often takes years for a sport to become as established as basketball now is in India.
What really helped India, was the formation of the Basketball Federation of India. By creating an official body like this, India's basketball has been able to develop and flourish and is now affiliated with the the FIBA and FIBA of Asia. This helps with the continuation of organising matches and international tournaments and makes sure that India keeps up with the latest trends, rules and standards it has to meet. But as mentioned already, it had to start somewhere and a brief history of the sport in this country will be discussed in this article.
1934: the first men's national championship
Equality in sport has come a very long way and it is great to see men and women competing at such a high level today. However, back in the 1930's women's sport was not given priority and men were the main focus. This shows us just how positively sport in general has changed and developed. In 1934, it held its first ever India National Championship for men. This tournament was held in New Delhi and was at a time before the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) was created, this was formed in 1950. Indians were attracted to the game when it was given this new focus and they were particularly drawn to the fast pace and action of the game.
Two years later, in 1936, the Indian National Team, named the Cagers, became a member of the FIBA. This was only four years after the International Basketball Federation had been formed.
In this period, India appeared on the international basketball stage for the first time and this was at the 1965 Asian Basketball Confederation Championship for men, which was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Indian captain at that time was Khushi Ram and he had an incredible tournament ending up being the second best scorer. This gave India confidence for future tournaments and turned the spotlight onto the team in Asia. In addition, Khushi Ram led the men's team at the 1967 and 1969 Asian championships and he was one of the top scorers in these events. This led him to be given the nickname the ‘scoring machine of Asia.'
1975 is cited as a key year in Indian basketball as it saw India have a record-breaking performance at the Asian Championship. The team finished in 4th place in Bangkok.
1980 Olympic Games
It was a year of anticipation for the team as they qualified for their first Olympic Games, in Moscow. Unfortunately, it was not as successful as they had hoped with the team finishing bottom, failing to win any of its seven games. However, the final game, against Australia, was an exciting one where India was winning up until half time because of excellent play from 6ft 5-tall Ajmer Singh. For a number of reasons, India is sadly yet to return to the Olympic Games with a basketball team.
There was much change in the sport in this period and there was much excitement around the new player Sozhasingarayer Robinson. He led the team to an unexpected victory in South Korea, who were one of the best teams in Asia at that time, and he began receiving considerable international attention. He also became the first Indian player to get a contract from a different continent, namely from Negar sang Sharekord, Iran. However, he resigned from the Indian national team in 2005 as a protest about the governance and organisation of the sport.
In 2007, the JD Basketball school began teaching and promoting the sport around India which gave it a new focus and some well-overdue popularity. In the following year, Robert Parish, an NBA legend, came to India which sparked a lot of NBA activity within the country.
In the past few years, Indian basketball has had a lot more success with the women's team really making their mark. During the William Jones Cup, the women beat the Asian Giants, Korea, helped immensely by Prashanti Singh. Following this, in 2012, the women won gold at the the 3X3 Asian Beach Games in a final against China.
This has since been followed by several other highlights, one being the men's team (ranked 61st) beating China (ranked 12th) in the 5th FIBA Asia Cup, making history. You want to bet on India basketball team ? Be sure to use a Gala bingo promo code to secure a cheesy discount.
This kind of achievement shows how the sport has completely developed and has a bright future.