Coach Bana Ravinder is one of the best in the business

To groom beginners is the toughest part of any coaching scheme. For Bana Ravinder, this comes quite naturally. This is clear whenone takes a cursory look at the list of national players he has mentored. Nihal Yadav, Salla Prasad, Raja Reddy, Ignatius Michael, Vishal, Maradona, Danikal, P. Pankaj, Varun Dev among men, and Sofie Sam, Amita Agarwal, Anjana Chowdary, Roja and Radhika form but a sprinkling of national and international players to have learned the game's rudiments from him.

“Ravinder has the capacity to coach any type of player, from greenhorn to pro. Judging a player's potential to perfection, he provides just the right extent of inputs that he or she can grasp,” says Norman Isaac, FIBA (International Basketball Federation) commissioner. “Sincerity and dedication matched by monumental patience make him hugely successful with children, evidenced by St. Anthony's dislodging St. Pious from the top among girls in the league competitions,” he adds.

“Baba, as friends call him, has been around for a long time. There will be no school tournament without his wards in it,” notes Mohd. Rizwan. “His own durability explains his success with kids, with whom he has a very different approach. Ravinder's always there for basketball.”

Himself a former player, Ravinder led the state to gold in the 1977 Kothagudem sub-junior nationals. In the 1983 junior nationals at Panjim, Goa, he was instrumental in AP reaching the quarterfinals and securing the Federation Cup bronze at Bhatinda in 1991. A forceful feeder, he however found no job in the few institutions that had openings for basketball players.

“Very humble and down-to-earth, he has coached generations. It won't be surprising to find mothers Ravinder coached, bringing their children to him,” says Lt. Col. (Retd.) John K. John, Vice President, Digital Nirvana and a keen cager. “‘Put ball in basket and win a biscuit,' is one line he uses with trainees. He coaches street children free and invariably shares two-thirds of each meal with less fortunate kids,” he adds.

“A parental approach is my mantra with children,” says Ravinder. “I detest scolding, shouting at or beating them.” At the St. Patricks Basketball Academy on Sebastian Road in Secunderabad, he is assisted by Shabuddin and Shanthi Kumar in training about 200 kids in the mornings between 6.30 and 8.30 a.m. and evenings from 4.30 to 5.30 p.m. As the state's assistant and main coach, he has steered his squads to triumph on stages as big as the National Games besides other national events.