Basketball and India

BFI launch INBL (Indian National Basketball League), aim to take sport to higher standards across all formats

On Thursday, Nov. 18, the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) launched the country's much-awaited basketball league.

Named INBL - Indian National Basketball League, the mega project is said to be executed by Headstart Arena India as per the visions of the BFI.

"The INBL is not just a league of games," said Dr. K Govindaraj, MLC the president of the BFI. "It is true that millions of basketball fans have dreamt of a National League in India for a long time. And we deliver that for sure for both men and women," he said.

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Over the past decade, there has certainly been no shortage of promising young basketball talent in India. The lack of a national professional league has always been looked at as a serious handicap that could have otherwise facilitated the advancement of that talent.

Attempts were made with the UBA (United Basketball Alliance), the first-ever men's professional basketball league in India which played out four seasons between 2015 and 2017 and although it showed promising signs, it never took off as BFI banned players participating in the UBA by not permitting them to participate in any All-India tournament, national and international tournaments.

Over the last year, the BFI has been taking multiple steps in the right direction culminating with the launch of the much-awaited league.

"The INBL will involve a three-prong approach," Dr. K Govindaraj said.

"First, and right on top, will be the high-quality league in the regular format, which will supplement strengthening the National team. And then we have the pan-India city-based FIBA3x3 competitions in at least 30 cities along with a 10-city FIBA3x3 weekend mega festivals, which will increase participation and bring in new talent."

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"Finally, we'll have the Hoops foundation that will focus on uplifting the face of the sport at the grassroots level."

Earlier this year, the BFI gave official recognition to the 3BL, India's only FIBA recognized 3×3 professional basketball league since 2017. This new association allowed players from the national team to participate in the 3BL and still be considered for the national teams.

While it will take time to put the 5-on-5 league into effect, the 3x3 project is already underway with the BFI-INBL 3x3 Bengaluru Open. The competition will feature 24 teams for both categories - Men and Women - with the preliminary rounds tipping off earlier today at 10 am and the Finals are scheduled for Saturday afternoon as part of the official launch ceremony.

"The INBL as a concept aims to give a competitive game to thousands of players every second weekend," Mr. Chander Mukhi Sharma, Secretary General of the BFI said.

"Be it the 3x3 format, where we do believe we have a very strong opportunity to qualify for the Olympics in 2024 or the regular format where as things stand we should aim to qualify for the 2027 FIBA Basketball World Cup and 2030 FIBA Women's Basketball Cup. And that is exactly what we are aiming to achieve with the INBL."

Promises have been made by the BFI before but never to this scale with multiple celebrities expected to grace the official launch ceremony on Saturday including the Honourable Governor of Karnataka, the Honourable Chief Minister of Karnataka along with Minister of Youth Empowerment & Sport, Government of Karnataka

Therefore now, it's all about execution.

Feature Image courtesy: Basketball Federation of India/ Twitter

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