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Adgully Exclusive | Basketball will be No. 2 sport in India in 5 years: NBA India's Akash Jain

Akash Jain, Sr. Director - Business Development and Partnerships, NBA India, currently oversees the League's overall development in India, working to grow popularity of basketball and the NBA. Jain has been responsible for developing the NBA "s long-term strategy and driving the League's business interests in India. He has been able to create value partnerships with industry names like Mahindra, Ten Sports, MSM, HP, adidas, and Planet Sports.

NBA recognises India as a key strategic growth market for the association and the game of Basketball. NBA India has recently launched a new initiative called Junior NBA. Talking about the initiative, Jain tells Adgully, "The Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA is a comprehensive youth basketball development program designed to teach India's youth basketball fundamentals and values they will need to succeed off the court as well. The program teaches values associated with the sport such as teamwork, dedication and respect and provides tools which local coaches can utilize to teach basketball year round. "

"The main elements of the program include coaching clinics, the first-ever Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Skills Challenge, "Basketball in a Box", and a visit from an NBA star," he adds.

NBA India believes that there is tremendous untapped potential for basketball in India. Looking at a long term commitment to grow the sport in the country, the Indian unit to the association is thrilled with the level of excitement witnessed across the country. "Just earlier this month, the NBA brought Hall of Famer George "Ice Man" Gervin and six-time WNBA All-Star Katie Smith of the Washington Mystics to Mumbai and Delhi to conduct clinics at various schools and the response was overwhelming. Given this level of excitement, we feel the Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA program, which will involve 500 schools in five cities, is the perfect program to continue our mission of growing grassroots participation," Jains says.

He feels that this event compliments the association's overall approach towards growing basketball and increasing the NBA's fan base in India. NBA India has two new television partners this season, Ten Sports and Sony PIX, that are providing fans in India unparalleled access to live games and behind-the-scenes programs. The NBA conducts a variety of grassroots events to bring an authentic NBA experience to fans in India, including visits from NBA and WNBA All-Stars and Legends.

Jain adds, "We are currently in the second season of the Mahindra NBA Challenge, the largest, multi-city community based league in India conducted in collaboration with the BFI and Mahindra. The program has attracted thousands of participants including members of India's National Team and participation is up 25% versus the first season. This past summer NBA All-Stars Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol visited India to participate in a variety of events including NBA Jam, an interactive fan event that was held in high traffic malls and reached over 100,000 fans."

The program is being supported by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), HP, Spalding, and Ten Sports. HP technology is being utilized to train coaches and provide incentives to participants. HP Dream Screens will be integrated within all coaching clinics to show instructional videos and teaching materials. HP will award HP Mini Notebook laptops to each of the National Skills Challenge winners and to the top coach in each city.

Ten Sports will create promotional spots encouraging participation across all cities and will produce special content around the event which will air on its channels. Spalding has provided equipment for the "Basketball in a Box' and supplied basketballs for all clinics and competitions. The BFI is the NBA's core logistics and operations partner for the program.

He says while signing off, "We expect to reach thousands of children and either help them improve their skills or introduce them to the game for the first time. This program will increase interest and participation in our game and make this generation of basketball players stronger than any previous generation. The future for the sport of basketball in India is bright and this program is another step in establishing basketball as the #2 sport in India in the next 5 years." | By Prabha Hegde [prabha(at)]


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