Assam’s basketball, which has so far lagged behind owing to lack of promotion, is set to get a shot in the arm with the introduction of the state’s first professional basketball competition — Basketball Challengers League (BCL) — that will kick off at Nehru Stadium, Guwahati, on Sunday 23rd September.
The league, organised by Sportscraft Management in association with the Assam Basketball Association (ABA), will witness a week long battle of six professional basketball teams, including those from Northeast Frontier Railway and IIT Guwahati. A team from Jorhat and three from Guwahati will also compete in the draw.
Most of the teams will comprise a maximum of three national-level outstation professionals from different parts of the country. The eight-day tournament will be played in league format and the top two teams on the points table will play a final match to decide the winner.
There will be prizes, including cash rewards, worth Rs 2 lakh up for grabs, Sportscraft Management managing partner Darick Ranjan Deka said. Man of the Match and most valuable player trophies will also be at stake.
“We hope the league will start a new era of professional basketball in Assam. It will get even bigger as we received tremendous response from the basketball fraternity within a short span of time after we intimated the interested franchises,” he added.
Asked about the ABA’s role in the tournament, Deka said: “The ABA has been of immense help to us in securing the venue, technical and logistic support in our endeavour.”
Elaborating the teams’ compositions, he said apart from the three professionals in every team, some of the franchises have hired expert coaches from outside Assam. “There are players also from Mizoram, which has been successfully organising a professional league over the past few years. Overall, there will be about 20 national-level players in the league,” he said.
Asked why a professional league of basketball and not any other sports, which are more popular in Assam, Deka said: “Our firm’s objective is to promote sports, which have not drawn the deserving attention so far. There are other sports as well, but basketball has not got the due attention. I hope this league will help the sport grow leaps and bounds in the state.”
He said Sportscraft Management will organise the league on its own for the first time.
“We could not muster financial support from the corporate sector this time because of paucity of time, but next time onwards, we hope to involve corporate majors to sponsor the meet in a bigger way” he added.