Grassroots Basketball and Time in the Studio
These last two months I have spent my time at what is called "grassroots" basketball training. During this same period I have also been on the other side of sprectrum using the television media to promote basketball in India. I started by training our U14 national team in Gandhinagar. This is a talented young group that has several players that have senior national team potential if they keep working hard. I was there almost 2 weeks.
In the middle of that camp I flew up to Mumbai to co-host the NBA All-Star weekend at Sony Six Studio. This was a great change of pace where I was able to use my communications background. I teamed up with an up and coming Bollywood actor, Manish Anand. Another famous Bollywood star, Abhishek Bachchan, was on sight in New York. We covered NBA Saturday including the 3 point Contest, Shooting Stars, Skills Challenge, and the Dunk Contest. The next day was the annual All-Star game. I thouroughly enjoyed my time here and made many new friend at the Sony Six Studio.
I came back to Gandhnagar to finish my time with our young national team players. These are great times to not only train the players but be a mentor to our Indian coaches that have been selected for these camps. On one of the last nights our entire staff went out for a great Indian dinner.
After I returned to Delhi I spent several days training the the American Embassy School team. This was arranged by my good friends Mohit and Poonam (Goswami) Bhandari. They are a great young couple that have committed themselves to advancing basketball in India through playing, coaching, and be mentors to young kids. In that same week I went over to Dribble Academy in Noida and conducted a training session. Pradyut Voleti, the founder and trainer of Dribble Academy is doing a fantastic job of training young kids, with the youngest being around 7 years old. He has a passion for player development and he has trained in the U.S. under Gannon Baker, one of the top player development coaches in the game.
One of my very best friends, Paul Furey, came over for a few days on the back end of a recruiting trip from England. He is the Head Soccer (football) coach at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee. While I usually conduct basketball training down in Kochi we had Paul conduct a football clinic this time. This was set up by my good friend and collegue, James Mathews. His organization, MyOneShot, has been instrumental in advancing basketball in the Kochi. They also use this platform to share their faith and help many people in need. Paul did a great job with the clinic and I believe it is really going to be a spring board for a stronger football program in the future.
I finished out March by conducting a basketball camp for Cagers Basketball Academy in Ghaziabad. This academy was started about a year ago by Varun Ahlawat and Mahfooz Ahmed. They have approximately 80 kids involved in their program. It is connected with DP School Ghaziabad Vasundra and they coach the teams as well. We had 2 sessions per day. The players really improved and hopefully I have given them a training program they can continue on in the future. I commend Varun and Mahfooz for their commitment to the kids and families in that area. We will be friends forever.
I was back in the studio in late March. This time it was for the documentary on the Indian School and College Basketball League, as well as India basketball in general. It is scheduled to air on Sony Six in the near future. This is being produced by BFI and IMG Reliance. It will be another tool to promote this great game in India.
I am headed to the U.S. tomorrow. I will be attending the NABC Convention and Final Four in Indianapolis next weekend. This is always such a great time to see so many of my friends and colleagues in the basketbal world. I plan on taking in a few NBA games as well. It will also be a chance to spend some quality time with my family. Next time I will update my time in the U.S. SALT & LIGHT