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New kids on the bloc

J.R. Shridharan
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Sports Away from the city glare, rural areas like Nuzvid and Gudivada are turning into breeding ground for budding basketball players

Youngsters learning rudiments of basketball at a summer coaching camp in NuzvidPhoto: Ch. Vijaya Bhaskar
Youngsters learning rudiments of basketball at a summer coaching camp in NuzvidPhoto: Ch. Vijaya Bhaskar

The name Nuzvid, a bustling municipality in Krishna District, conjures up images of veenas, mangoes and majestic forts. But for sports-lovers, the town is well known for its patronage of basketball as the game has been in the DNA of the locals for more than 50 years.

In fact, the popularity of basketball is so evident here that the Andhra Pradesh State teams had a good number of hoopsters from Nuzvid and the courts of DAR College produced many national basketball players.

In the summer camps, the game witnessed more than 150 youngsters going through the rudimentary drills under the watchful eyes of SAAP coach Nagaraju.

“The role of seniors is laudable. They are active in promoting the game among the youngsters. Some of the senior players have become physical education teachers and National Institute of Sports (NIS) coaches in the neighbouring schools and colleges and they also play a pivotal role in passing on the game to the younger generation,” says basketball administrator Amjad.

The role of former Krishna District Basketball Association secretary, the late Samundra Rao is worth mentioning as he literally turned Nuzvid into a basketball factory by producing several talented players. “Vijayawada, for namesake, is the headquarters of KDBA. But the activities, including the district team selection trials, were held at Nuzvid,” says Krishna District Olympic Association secretary K.P. Rao.

Right from the days of Maharajas, the town witnessed patronage to basketball, tennis and kabaddi. “In 1973, a local girl B.Z. Darothi went on to represent Andhra Pradesh in a tournament held at Sri Lanka. In 1984, thanks to Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh, we got the first cement court. The town also staged a senior South Zone fixture in which players from all southern States stayed here and played in front of packed crowd,” recalls Amjad.

Nuzvid also played host to several district and State tournaments and Andhra Pradesh Basketball Association promoted the centre by allotting tournaments regularly. “More number of competitive tournaments should be held here to motivate enthusiasm among youngsters. Thanks to basketball, many youngsters from Nuzvid got jobs in banks, railways, Indian Army, AP police and Customs. Players like Madhusudhan (Customs), Nagaraju (Army) and Premjit (AP Police) are some of the top-class basketball players from this town,” says coach Nagaraju.

After a lull for few years, parents are again sending their children back to basketball keeping in mind the health factors.

“For a couple of years, parents did not send their wards to sports owing to academic compulsions. But with several health issues cropping up they have started sending their children for sports, especially basketball, to burn the calories,” says the coach.

Close on the heels of Nuzvid, Gudivada is emerging as yet another basketball hub and several schools and colleges are showing keen interest in promoting the game.

“Basically basketball is a city-based sport. I wonder how these two rural centres have shaped into breeding grounds for the game of hoops in the district,” observes an administrator.

J.R. Shridharan

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