Beagles Basketball Club counts outstanding players and even a former Olympian among its members
Formed over a cup of coffee over 40 years ago, Beagles Basketball Club is one of two exciting and enterprising teams (Bharath Sports Union is the other) to popularise the sport in Malleswaram. Located on 15th Cross between Margosa Road and Sampige Road, it has produced several outstanding players who have served the State and nation with distinction.
The club’s beginnings are recounted by former secretary Srinivasan in a souvenir (brought out during the silver jubilee of the club in 1993): “On a rainy Sunday, myself and players like R. Jayaraj and K. Raghunath had our usual cup of coffee and out of the blue, Raghunath asked, why should we not have our own basketball club? It was welcomed by all players in our area. We took the proposal to the late B.V. Patankar, who readily agreed to give us a place to put up a court on his vast property.”
From its modest beginnings in Patankar layout, Beagles later moved to East Park Road and had its own court made, now known as the Beagles court. Since its inception, the club went from strength to strength and formed senior, junior and girls teams that have won laurels in State-level and national-level tournaments.
Dilip Gurumurthy, who represented India in the Moscow Olymypics in 1980 and played for India at the Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) Championships, is among the senior-most members of the club, and is still actively involved. K. Raghunath (popularly known as Papachi), R. Jairaj, B.S. Goutham, Selva Kumar, Ravi Raju, S.V. Ganesh, G. Venugopal, Santosh Belwadi, Venkat Vardhan and several others donned Beagles colours with pride.
Individual brilliance and firm teamwork set Beagles players apart from the rest. Selva, the southpaw, was a treat to watch with his drive-ins; Goutham was a stylish forward; Jairaj was flashy while Papachi was unerring in his long-range shooting, and Dilip excelled at defence and frustrated his opponents.
“What made Beagles different was our solid practice. I don’t think any other team practiced as hard as we did. In fact, players from other teams used to practice with us,” observes Dilip, who is Senior Manager with the Vijaya Bank.
Dilip calls Beagles’ early days ‘the Golden age’ — a time when it had great players, a close-knit bunch with passion for the game. He laments that the same spirit cannot be found in most teams anymore. “Youngsters lack the intensity and drive, and I don’t blame them either; given the academic pressure, they do not find time to practice,” he says.
If basketball needs to thrive, it is necessary to revive club culture in a big way, he observes. “Clubs should be proactive, tapping young talent and motivating youngsters.” Beagles is now all set to build an indoor stadium at the park — a “dream project”, according to Dilip. It will be an indoor stadium with a 2,000-seat capacity. Besides an all-weather court, it will have a table tennis hall and a gym,” says Dilip.
The indoor court project ran into problems with residents objecting to felling trees. “We have addressed their concerns, and what we want to achieve is to provide an international class indoor sports arena, which would be a landmark in Malleswaram. We wish to involve all local schools and colleges and conduct regular tournaments and ensure the optimum utilisation of the court,” says Dilip.