"Hoop Nation": This is how basketball unites these Indians

Segway-like vehicles were also used by the police to keep an eye on the large crowd on Marina Beach.

Who doesn't love an outsider?

In the history of sport, there are numerous examples of unimaginable victories where effort is lost.

Like the Kansas City bosses who overcame a 10-point deficit against the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl in the fourth quarter, or the Liverpool FC Premier League football club, which has a 30-year drought ahead of it to secure the coveted League Cup.

Similar stories of Grit and Courage, but closer, is what Hoop Nation, the four-video series sponsored by NBA and Uber, captures.

The parallels stop here; the documented stories are not about nail defects, photo finishes for a game or a series. For the featured people, the struggle is about how their passion for basketball allows them to dream big and give them a chance to live life themselves.

"What made them all different is how they uniquely revealed how players, coaches, families and supporters made basketball their own," added Mairu Gupta, senior director, Global Media Distribution, NBA India, who added the stories How Sport "Brings Different Communities Together".

Overcome barriers

It includes the disabled with a wheelchair – only when throwing tires – and not in spirit.

Madhavi Latha

Led by Madhavi Latha, who founded and leads the Indian Wheelchair Basketball Association (WBFI) and is herself a national Paralympic swimming champion (who received this award at the age of 40 after learning to swim at the age of 37), getting bigger and stronger ,

In 2019, the sixth WBFI national championship took place in Mohali, in which 23 men's and 14 women's teams took part.

What Madhavi saw in 2014 when the opportunity arose to found the WBFI and to hire coaches from abroad to train talented young people was a platform for “teaching leadership skills for the disabled”.

who is who

  • Directed by Shreeda Patel, Hoop nation With four click tracks (one for each location), composed by sibling music duo Anushka and Shikhar Yuvraj Manchanda, professionally known as Nuka and Rākhis.
  • "It took us about a month to shoot the series," says Mairu Gupta. Each video contains a track sung by hip-hop artists.
  • The vocals for the WBFI in Chennai come from Deepa Unnikrishnan (known as Dee MC), while the Gangyap Girls are Shillong's teenage hip-hop crew Symphonic Movement. For LBA rapper Kaam Bhaari (Kunal Pandagle), who made an impression in the Bollywood feature Gully boy. adds thrust with these lines – Jeetne ka shauk hai khud ko atal banana padega (If you have a desire to win, commit yourself). Spitfire (Nitin Mishra) is the featured artist for the Dharamshala video.

“Because wheelchair basketball is such a dynamic game. A disabled person wants to be as active and dynamic as any other young person, ”says Madhavi. The response was "amazing" as Tamil Nadu's interest came from every nook and corner, she adds.

The best of the many is Partha, whose spinal injuries after falling from a building while a Vellore CMC student locked him in a wheelchair.

“Before his accident, he was a basketball player. He felt bad that he couldn't play the game as before and when he heard about WBFI he came up to us, ”she adds.

Tires on wheels: An athlete from the Wheelchair Basketball Association of India

Tires on wheels: An athlete from the Wheelchair Basketball Association of India

| Photo Credit:
Special arrangement

In 2017, Partha traveled to Thailand despite limited training with the U-23 national team, where his performance was praised by other teams and coaches.

That first impression was enough because Partha is now a student at the University of Alabama in the United States and has received an adapted athletics scholarship to study kinesiology and exercise science, although he continues to train and improve his game.

A parallel can be drawn to the case of 24-year-old Nima Doma Bhutia, who is now a member of the senior Indian women's basketball team.

Nima, who is from a tribal community in Gangyap, Sikkim, is a product of the Eklavya Model Residential School and was inspired by Siddharth Yonzone, the school's principal and trainer, to play basketball. Until Yonzone started working here in 2007, early school leaving was the rule among the girls of the tribes.

Nima Doma Bhutia

“I not only poured sports, but also music into the children. For me, first generation learners from such remote areas had to be trained differently. These activities kept the tribal children happy, occupied them and above all gave them self-confidence and self-confidence, ”says Yonzone.

For Nima, the brightest light from Gangyap, the path to fame was not without difficulties.

“It took me a few years to understand that it is extremely difficult to be selected for the nation, especially if you belong to a minority who come from a village in a very small state. But basketball changed my life. It is more than just a game. It taught me to aim higher when we shot the ball high into the basket, ”says Nima.

Dominant don

The "Girls of Gangyap" are so good at the moment that they are now favorites when competing against the CBSE national team, although they still have a long way to go before being considered the giants of the game in India.

Athletes train at the Ludhiana Basketball Academy

This crown belongs to Punjab, more precisely to the Ludhiana Basketball Academy (or LBA), which, according to Arshpreet Singh Bhullar, an Indian men's team player, trained "every single Punjab player" for the national team.

"[LBA] has made a significant contribution to bringing basketball talent into the national team, ”he says.

Punjab recently won the 70th national championship. They had won it the previous year too. Such a dominance of sport – as Bhullar notes: "At least seven or eight national team players are from Punjab" – is perhaps the reason why the concept of fear is discussed a lot in the video about Ludhiana's talents.

Arshpreet Singh Bhullar

"The opponents are always worried that Punjab's players are the best and that their youth will be good," he says.

It is what the LBA also enables, so that the Punjabi youth can dream big.

Satnam Singh Bhamara, 24, from Barnala, is a famous graduate from here and was drafted by the NBA team Dallas Mavericks in 2015. Others like Amritpal Singh and Amjyot Singh followed in his footsteps when he graduated from a foreign league. The youngest participant is Arvinder Singh Khalon, who was selected to train at the NBA Junior Academy in Noida and is expected to fly to the United States soon.

ray of hope

But basketball is stretching its limits to include the impoverished marginalized – refugees. In this case, it is the Tibetan Children's Village (TCV) in Dharamshala.

The refugee children in the Tibetan children's village in Dharamshala play basketball

The refugee children in the Tibetan children's village in Dharamshala play basketball

| Photo Credit:
Special arrangement

The 10-year-old Kamo Rezen is a real eye-catcher and adores Stephen Curry from the Golden State Warriors. He effortlessly drops the tires and puts them on so that his friends can dive home. The TCV was founded in 1960 and is home to children, most of whom separated from their parents either at birth or while fleeing persecution.

"We encourage them to play after class. It should be fine as long as they don't argue, ”laughs Geshe Tenzin Damchoe, a lecturer at the Sarah College of Higher Tibetan Studies. He adds that the village students also learn volleyball and badminton – "because health is as important as education." At the end of the video, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that this sport is much more than just an escape. There is hope.

Hoop Nation videos can be viewed on YouTube and Facebook.