As she tore down the court, leading Bhavan's charge, there was a glow on S. Parvathy's face.
Children from the Elamakkara Bhavan's Vidya Mandir and the Choice School are a lucky lot. Very few players in Kerala have the good fortune of playing basketball on an indoor, wooden court as the children from these schools did at the RSC Ernakulam district mini basketball championship final in Kochi on Friday.
Even the State senior championship, held at Mullankoly in Wayanad recently, was held on a hard cement court, outdoors!
“This court is so smooth and a lot better than the ones outdoors,” said Parvathy, about the venue (Rajiv Gandhi indoor stadium). “And the good thing is, you stay away from the sun.”
The Bhavan's girls, who have a two-hour session every day at Elamakkara, won the title comfortably.
Despite the fantastic playing conditions, the mini championship had a poor response from schools in the girls' section. Just five teams were in the fray in the tournament, which was an under-13 event.
“We don't have a girls' team,” said Jeevan Raj, coach of Sacred Heart Public School, a strong force in boys' basketball. “Last year, we tried organising a girls' camp but couldn't continue as I found it tough to concentrate on both boys and girls.”
The Sacred Heart boys were winning tournaments aplenty and naturally, the focus turned on the champions.
The scene at Choice School is dismal too. “We turn up every morning at the court, waiting for the players but nobody turns up for practice,” said Rekha Binu, the girls' coach at the Choice School in Tripunithura.
Getting players on court seems to be the problem in almost all the schools.
“It's compulsory to field 10 players in a team for this tournament but very few teams could manage that many,” said K.A. Saleem, the Ernakulam District Basketball Association secretary.
For a State which has produced stars like Geethu Anna Jose and Ivy Cherian, basketball at the under-13 level seems to be in a pathetic state.
“Apart from schools in Kozhikode like Providence and St. Michael's and Koratty's Little Flower and Kottayam's Mount Carmel, very few schools take mini basketball seriously,” said K.O. Oommen, the media relations officer of the Kerala Basketball Association, who has played a major role in the States' thriving schools circuit in the higher age groups.
“The RSC indoor court is the best court for basketball in the whole of Kerala,” he added.