Thousands of spectators ominously rise up on opposite sides, all peering down on a rectangular playing arena far below. The third quarter is underway. In the crowd, 'Go KIRORI MAL' and 'VICTORY FOR SATHYABHAMA' banners wave up and down. Young kids press their face against the steel grills as if trying to absorb the electrifying atmosphere through the pores of their skin.
High up in the stands, two bilingual commentators simultaneously relay the game in high pitch while news cameras span the action.
'It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Walking down the tunnel, I honestly felt like we were in a movie. I mean, I had played on other indoor courts before, but this was something else,' said P Baladhaneshwar, a school student from Tamil Nadu who used Thyagaraj as a stage to catapult himself to a roster spot on India's senior national team.
Curiously named after a famous Tamil poet and music composer, the Thyagaraj Sports Complex was built from scratch in the heart of New Delhi at a cost of 300 crores. Originally meant to be a netball venue at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Thyagaraj has since turned into a hub for national and local basketball activity.
The twin indoor courts are not open to the public and must be rented out. The rent itself hovers around 1 lakh rupees per day, with the centre hosting multiple 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 corporate tournaments.
But on this occasion, it wasn't just another registration based event, but the National School and College Basketball Finals that were underway. It seemed fitting that India's champs would be decided in its national capital.
A Startling Discovery
Just like the game of basketball itself in India, the Thyagaraj Sports Complex too has to be 'discovered' in a sense. It is tucked away behind the busy INA market in South Delhi, smack in between the peaceful Lodhi Colony to the north and the chaotic Kotla Mubarakpur marketplace along its southern periphery. Thyagaraj Stadium almost has a serene beauty to it; a marvel of architecture hidden behind long unassuming walls. The countless cycle rickshaws, SUVs, pedestrians and chai wallahs that form an endless moving chain around it, seem to leave the complex - which comprises a massive futuristic glass facade building, a 400m synthetic track and a lush green football field - largely untouched, in an island of its own.
Delhi's extreme weather conditions make an indoor facility like Thyagaraj vital. Considered India's first 'green' venue, the stadium's cutting edge construction technology includes environment friendly rainwater management systems and sewage treatment plants. But what truly makes Thyagaraj a monument of sustainable development is its 10,521 square metre solar power plant; designed in such a way that it feeds any excess energy back to the grid.
Thyagaraj represents the best that India has to offer in terms of sports facilities. It exemplifies how far the National Capital has come from its mud and clay court days of the 1950s, when it hosted the 1st Asian Games.
While there are other reputed courts in the capital such as the Indira Gandhi arena and Jaypee Greens, Thyagaraj is the indisputable home of competitive basketball, right from school, college to the seniors, across both men and women.
'Playing at the indoor wooden court really lit a fire in the kids' hearts and made them even more determined to take their game to the next level,' said Pradyut Voleti, founder of Dribble Academy, a Noida based non-profit that provides basketball coaching to underprivileged kids.
Basketball 'Exclusivity Lacking
In a democratic setup like India, sharing is inevitable, and Thyagaraj isn't solely a basketball centre by any stretch of imagination. A barrier splits the stadium right down the middle and on the far end - even as India's most premier basketball tournaments are underway - over a dozen kids furiously practice their drop shots and lobs on three badminton courts, oblivious of the bouncing basketballs, hoots and shrill whistles. The venue also hosts many conventions and concerts as a way to generate revenue.
The final buzzer sounded and we filed out from the snap back chairs. As we exited, the hallway lights switched off automatically behind us, returning the stadium to its enigmatic darkness. It will now reveal its majesty only to the next lot of players, coaches and spectators.
For a nation on the rise in basketball, finally there is an arena befitting its growing stature.
The inside stories of Indian Basketball - Sony Six TV - 2 days ago
High up in the hilly abode of Himachal Pradesh, lies a fascinating little basketball secret. The Sherabling Monastery, located in Dharamshala, has monks who are in love with basketball. That's right, children from the monastery go out and enjoy the sport that is loved by millions around the globe. NBA Hangout, a new weekly show, gives us an inside view of the fascinating stories related to basketball in India. A segment in the brand new show talks about how basketball has entered the liv... [read more]
High up in the hilly abode of Himachal Pradesh, lies a fascinating little basketball secret. The Sherabling Monastery, located in Dharamshala, has monks who are in love with basketball. That's right, children from the monastery go out and enjoy the sport that is loved by millions around the globe.
NBA Hangout, a new weekly show, gives us an inside view of the fascinating stories related to basketball in India. A segment in the brand new show talks about how basketball has entered the lives of the monks at Sherabling Monastery. The story was quite different a decade ago when monks in Buddhist monasteries weren't allowed to play sports. However, with the growing awareness about the positive mental and physical influence of sports, the children at the monastery were allowed to explore the boon of sports. The rest, as they say, is history. Preferring to play basketball over indoor activities like video games, these young monks cannot wait to get out and shoot some hoops.
Besides the children being astutely aware of the many benefits of playing basketball (one particularly jovial boy mentions his ambitions of growing really tall and becoming a champion in the sport), what strikes a chord is the sheer joy basketball brings them. Despite playing other sports, they monks have a special fondness for basketball and are very enthusiastic about playing it everyday.
Whatever their reasons for playing, whatever the story behind their discovery of the sport, one thing is for certain. Basketball has added a touch of color to the austere lives led by the monks and is a heart-warming example of the magic of hoops and sport in general.
You can catch more such fascinating stories on NBA Hangout on TVF Play and on Thursday at 7 P.M. on Six and Six HD
ONGC Dehradun scored its second straight win defeating Income Tax (Gujarat) 88-71 in men's Group B league of the 31st Federation Cup basketball championship here on Thursday. The IT boys knew they were up against one of the best teams in the country. But they displayed guts of steel, dribbling boldly and confidently into the rival area for precious points, in the first quarter. ONGC, the championship favourite, meanwhile, played in a much relaxed manner. The idea was to exercise its str... [read more]
ONGC Dehradun scored its second straight win defeating Income Tax (Gujarat) 88-71 in men's Group B league of the 31st Federation Cup basketball championship here on Thursday.
The IT boys knew they were up against one of the best teams in the country. But they displayed guts of steel, dribbling boldly and confidently into the rival area for precious points, in the first quarter.
ONGC, the championship favourite, meanwhile, played in a much relaxed manner. The idea was to exercise its strategies for the final league against a strong Indian Overseas Bank on Friday. It was, in fact, a rehearsal of sorts for the team.
After its main players secured a good 15-point lead in the first session, ONGC tested its bench strength.
Income Tax, on the other hand, continued to work hard at the flanks. Dishanth V. Shah, the only tall star in the team, who looked smooth and easy beating the defence in the first half, suddenly could not find the space to move around as he was completely checked by the big men from Uttarakhand.
Income Tax could have still made a match of it had its bench been strong enough. It had just three to boast of as against ONGC's eight. They tried their level best in the final quarter but the damage had already been done.
Late on Wednesday, Customs and Central Excise (Kerala) held its nerves to clinch a 78-77 thriller over a fighting Ludhiana BA.
The results: Men: ONGC (Uttarakhand) 88 (Yadwinder Singh 21, Vishesh Briguvanshi 20) bt Income Tax (Gujarat) 71 (Dishant V. Shah 20, Indravijay Singh 16); Army Service Corps & Centre (Karnataka) 87 (Issac T. Thomas 28, Vivekananda 16) bt Ludhiana BA 64 (Arshpreet Singh 19, Rajveer Singh 18); IOB 75 bt Central Railway 58.
On Wednesday: IOB 82 (G. Sivabalan 20, Hareesh Koroth 19) bt Income Tax (Gujarat) 71 (Dhaval P. Ulva 20, Dishan V. Shaji 19); Customs & Central Excise (Kerala) 78 (R. Manoj 30, K.R. Nikhil 23) bt Ludhiana BA 77 (Arshpreet Bhullar 21, Rahul Mehla 16).
Women: West Bengal 76 (Madhu Kumari 25, Sitamani Tudu 19) bt Kerala 55 (P.G. Anjana 11, Nimmi George 9); Chhattisgarh 105 (Poonam Chaturvedi 42, Riya Verma 18) bt Punjab 75 (Nicha Netam 15, Mahima Bharadwaj 11).
Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (26 points) and Amritpal Singh (19 points) did the bulk of the scoring as defending champion ONGC (Uttarakhand) defeated first-time entrant Central Railways (CR) 75-64 in the men's Group B league of the 31st Federation Cup basketball championship here on Wednesday. ONGC fielded its top five at the start, but they failed to fire early. Central Railways cashed in on the chance and raced to a 6-2 lead in the opening minute with Raj Kalbhok shooting twice from outside th... [read more]
Vishesh Bhriguvanshi (26 points) and Amritpal Singh (19 points) did the bulk of the scoring as defending champion ONGC (Uttarakhand) defeated first-time entrant Central Railways (CR) 75-64 in the men's Group B league of the 31st Federation Cup basketball championship here on Wednesday.
ONGC fielded its top five at the start, but they failed to fire early. Central Railways cashed in on the chance and raced to a 6-2 lead in the opening minute with Raj Kalbhok shooting twice from outside the ring. ONGC did its best to keep the young shooter in check.
Later, after tightening the screws, it went into attack mode through Bhriguvanshi and Amritpal.
It was the former, in fact, who made a big difference. Standing at over six-foot, the playmaker showed great ball control. He cut down pace time and again and pressed on the power button when it mattered most to make it difficult for Railways.
Amritpal offered him great support and the points started to flow. However, the Central Railways team managed to stay close with ONGC leading 43-32 at the break.
It was ONGC's brilliance in the second half that decided the outcome of the game. It rested its stars, barring Bhriguvanshi, and tested its bench which did the finishing well. ONGC was all over Railways for most part of the last quarter. Railways could have matched the points charts had it not concentrated too hard on its defence. 'It was our first match so it took some time for us to settle down,' said ONGC coach Amit Kumar.
He had words of praise for the Central Railways side. 'They were really good. They were all new players and it was quite natural that they came out with new ideas.'
Central Railways coach Hanif Patel was pleased with his team's performance.
'We lost, but not without a fight. ONGC is a strong side and our boys made a match out of it. We played four of our tall players, but still struggled to beat the ONGC defence. That was because they stood taller than our boys.
Men: Army Service Corps & Centre (Karnataka) 57 (Isaac Thomas 16, Shashi Kumar 13, Jeethendar Singh 13) bt Indian Air Force 51 (Narendra Kumar 20, Joginder Singh 10); ONGC (Uttarakhand) 75 (Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 26, Amritpal Singh 19) bt Central Railways 64 (C. Amit 22, Akshadeep 11).
Women: Telangana 70 (Divya Palanivel 15, Aswathy 14, M. Gayathri 10) bt Punjab 39 (Gagandeep 10); Kerala 74 (P.R. Surya 16, P.G. Anjana 13) bt Delhi 36 (Sahiba Maan 12); Tamil Nadu 72 bt West Bengal 67; Southern Railway 69 bt Chhattisgarh 51. Courtesy - The Hindu
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