After the successful start of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL), the joint venture between the International Management Group (IMG) and Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) has started exploring another sport. The promoters of ISL have started promoting grassroots level basketball by launching two leagues along with the Basketball Federation of India (BFI).
By launching two properties, namely the Indian School Basketball League (ISBL) and the Indian College Basketball League (ICBL), IMG-Reliance along with BFI intend to instill basic knowledge of the sport at the grassroots level. The long term goal of this initiative is to cultivate talent that adheres to national standards.
Chief Executive Officer of BFO, Mr. Roopam Harish Sharma said, “We need to catch the players young and train them. The idea to start this league is to identify the best players and train them for international level.”
The partnership between these two organizations includes a 30 year commitment where IMG-Reliance will help develop this sport all over the country. In addition to this, BGI has granted IMG-Reliance commercial rights for sponsorship, advertising, merchandising, broadcasting, film, intellectual property franchising and new league rights as a part of this partnership.
Off to a Favorable Start
These two leagues were conceived in Delhi and Indore after which a series of matches were played in cities such as Hyderabad, Raipur and Dehradun. The league matches started in Mumbai on October 17th and are currently being played at the Khalsa College. Divided into sub leagues, namely Premier and Challenger, the ICBL will be played in 9 tier 1 and 9 tier 2 cities. The ISBL too, has been divided into two sub leagues.
Referring to the progress of the league, Mr. Roopam Harish Sharma said, “Mumbai is a very active city, full of life and energy. We are looking forward to an exciting display of matches as ICBL and ISBL. The response received so far has been positive from the end of all teachers, students and parents. I am very confident that a revolution will soon be created in the history of basketball in India.”
According to the Chief Operating Officer of IMG-Reliance, Mr. Ashu Jindal, India is currently witnessing a revolution with regards to sports. Considering that basketball is the second most popular sport in the world, he believes that it deserves a fair share of support and push. He added, “These two leagues are being played across 22 cities, designed to provide the youth a platform on pan-India basis.”
The ICBL currently consists of more than 450 colleges and over 6000 participants. It is expected that 700 schools from across the nation will participate in this program. The city champions from the ICBL premier league will move on to play in the national championships that will be organized at the end of this year in New Delhi. In the boy’s category, Podar College was beaten by Jhunjhunwala College while VJTI College won the match against Vaze College in the girl’s category.
The winning teams of the championship will their basketball courts completely refurbished while the first and second runners up will receive a prize of INR75,000 and INR50,000 respectively.