Former basketball champion's call to improve young sportspersons
THANJAVUR: Decades after hanging up his boots, M. Selvaraju's romance with basketball continues.
A feared competitor during his prime, he fondly remembers the days when he ripped through the opposition defence with ease.
Mr. Selvaraju broke into the scene in 1971 at the Ernakulam Junior Nationals and with his speed and technique caught the attention of many.
A regular in the Madras University team, he went on to captain the side in 1976. "I was so addicted to the game and the passion simply ran high. Ours was a highly rated team and it was a great honour to lead the side," says Selvaraju.
A good performance for the South Zone Combined University Team earned him a place at the Patiala National Camp in 1976. But Mr. Selvaraju missed out on the chance to attend the camp owing to personal reasons. "That was certainly the turning point. I knew I lost a golden opportunity and I still regret it. But those things do happen and we have cope up with it," he says.
Against U.S. team
Mr. Selvaraju was also part of the Tamil Nadu side that played an exhibition match against the American team in 1978 and says that he cherishes the experience most. "They played basketball in a different level. It is the same even now."
After joining State Bank of India, he continued playing for the bank team in the summer-circuit tournaments.
"The team was very popular in Kerala and I still remember the packed stands and people cheering us," he says.
An alumnus of Raja Serfoji Government Arts College, Thanjavur, Mr. Selvaraju doesn't forget to mention the days he played for his college team.
"The Madras University Tiruchi division inter-collegiate basketball tournaments were clearly dominated by Jamal Mohammed College and St. Joseph's College. We used to give our 100 percent whenever we played against them. Defeating the fancied teams was nothing short of a big achievement," he says.
Now the vice-president of Thanjavur District Basketball Association, Mr. Selvaraju cites the need for producing more talented players. "Getting into the Thanjavur-based St. Peters High School basketball team used to be a daunting task during our school days. But that kind of competition at school level is missing now. I firmly believe that physical education teachers play a crucial ole in improving the standards."
He makes special mention about the key role played by his coach V. Paramasivam in shaping up his career.