I am not an expert on basketball, still what I read yesterday was not only a good news for basketball but for Indian sports in general. And it could be something for Indian football to follow.
The Indian Basketball Federation and IMG-Reliance yesterday announced a long term partnership to develop the game of basketball from the grassroots up to the professional level. The contract has a duration of 30 years. An unbelievable contract length, but it gives the surety to both the federation and the sports management company that they are here in this together for the long-term to develop the sports.
India isn't know as a giant in basketball, but these two partners together want to take the sport forward on the subcontinent. India should become a force to reckon with in Asian basketball over the next decade and maybe by then an Indian player will be playing the North American NBA like Chinese Yao Ming, who has given the game a massive boost in China.
As per the deal IMG-Reliance will assist the BFI on financial, promotional and technical aspects. As part of the agreement, the BFI has granted IMG-Reliance commercial rights relating to basketball in India - sponsorship, advertising, broadcasting, merchandising, film, video and data, intellectual property, franchising and new league rights.
At the top level the big project is the creation of the Indian Pro Basketball League where India's top players will be seen in action alongside international players. It will be modelled on the successful Chinese Basketball League. And a key component currently missing is necessary infrastructure. So the focus will be to develop world class infrastructure in India including the construction of new arenas and training facilities.
At the grassroot level IMG-Reliance will help the BFI to develop school and college leagues and competitions across the country to develop young talent who can go on to represent the country.
The above all sounds very promising and comes on the back of the Mahindra Group tying up with the NBA to develop the Mahindra NBA Challenge, a community programme.
This all comes after earlier this year IMG Worldwide and Reliance Industries announced a partnership to form a jointly sports management company called IMG-Reliance into which IMG would bring their decades of experience in sports management while Reliance would look into the infrastructure and funding side of things.
The signs for basketball in India look really promising, but will it be able to challenge a sport like football which is in India No. 2 behind cricket. One will have to wait and see. But the deal is something which the AIFF needs to look at and look for a similar partner as the aim of the two sporting bodies are similar, but only a private partner with the experience and funding can make it possible.
Maybe IMG-Reliance will look to develop football in India like it is doing with basketball...