The league of extraordinary basketball fans

- March 28, 2024

Five alumni of the Hindu College have joined hands to start a basketball league for college-going students; the second edition this year was a success thanks to increase in teams and sponsors

WOMEN’s CHAMPS: Members of the Hoopsters team, who won the women’s title of the tournament

A group of five like-minded Hindu College alumni from different batches and associated with basketball during their college days have joined hands to set up Development Basketball League (D Ball League). 

The second edition of D Ball League that culminated on March 15 was a success. The Hindu College basketball court in North Campus of Delhi University was abuzz with activities from March 11 to 15 as 18 teams, including eight in women’s section, battled for supremacy. 

What was more heartening was that a small group of basketball enthusiasts had managed to raise enough funds to give prize money to the winners and runners-up in men and women’s sections. 

Besides these, there were many more prizes, including the most valuable male and female players of the tournament. 

The first edition in 2023 was confined to Delhi University players, while the second edition of the D Ball League that reached climax on the night of March 15, attracted players from NCR too.

The format of the tournament was modified with last two minutes earning teams double the usual points for a basket and each team having to field all 12 players for at least two minutes. The organisers of the tournament — D Ball League, which was played on a league-cum-knockout basis, had asked the players to register themselves for the 2024 edition. More than 150 players responded. 

Rishab Sarvaria, a former college-level player and one of the five Hindu College alumni who envisaged this tournament, said they wanted to give back something to the community, which was the main reason for joining hands to set up D Ball League. 

R Shamshul Arfeen, Nitin Verma, Sachin Sharma and Pravin Dovan are the other members of D Ball League. 

MEN’s CHAMPS: Elevated Ballers, who won the final in extra time, were crowned champions in the men’s category

“We contacted our resources and they responded well to support our tournament. We then decided to support college-going basketball players by conducting the prize money tournament,” said Sarvaria when asked about the basketball competition. 

Steady growth 

The first edition in 2023 attracted eight men’s teams and six in the women’s section. 

“This year (2024), we entered NCR colleges to expand the competition. We believe our approach to spread out to different universities will give opportunity to more basketball-playing students in future,” Sarvaria added. 

“We could raise only Rs 5 lakh through sponsors in 2023. This year the response was better and more sponsors joined us. We raised more funds and it enabled us to increase the number of teams.” 

According to Sarvaria, who runs his own business in Delhi, this year several people associated with basketball in one way or the other have come forward to support the tournament. More sponsors have meant better facilities for the competitors, he said. 

“More sponsors have added to our confidence. With more support in future, we will continue to add teams in the third edition.” 

Rejigging the rules 

Rules of the D Ball League were modified slightly to make the contest more exciting and involve more people. 

TOP DRAW: Shaily Upadhyay was declared the Most Valuable (Female) Player of the Tournament

The players were first asked to register for the tournament. Then the captains of each team were asked to pick players from the registered pool. Each team selected 12 players with one of them from the U-19 age group. 

Each member of the team had to play for a minimum of two minutes. 

“The format of the tournament allows all 12 players to showcase their talent during the competition,” said Sarvaria. 

The best five players stepped on the court, but as the match progressed the team coach used the option of substitution to give chance to all the team members. 

VALUABLE: Gaurav Bali of the Hindu College was declared the Most Valuable (Male) Player of the Tournament

There was also a change in the scoring system in the last two minutes of the contest to make the D Ball League more exciting for the spectators who were mostly students.

“We want to make the contest more exciting at each step. That is why we introduced a system to double the points for each basket in the last two minutes of the competition, Sarvaria added. “Each two-point conversion in the last two minutes was counted as four. While a three-pointer was counted as six,” he said. 

Better facilities 

Gaurav Bali of the Hindu College was declared the Most Valuable (Male) Player of the Tournament. 

According to Bali, basketball in India is known as an outdoor event. 

“Majority of the tournaments are played outdoors in Delhi as there are few indoor facilities,” said Bali. “I think it will take time to have better indoor facilities in Delhi.” 

As the majority of tournaments in Delhi are conducted outdoors, Bali says it doesn’t make sense to practice in the limited indoor venues as it takes time to adapt to the hard cemented outdoor court. 

However, all the national and international competitions are held on indoor courts making it tough for players used to playing in outdoor courts to graduate to those stages from intra-Delhi level.

 “Basketball is fun and challenging. It can be played in small areas. The ball game is good for fitness and coordination,” Bali said. 

Shaily Upadhyay, was declared the Most Valuable (Female) Player of the Tournament. A student of Jesus and Mary College, Shaily has been playing for the last five years and has played at national level too. The competition in the women’s group was not as intense as in the men’s section. 

According to Shaily, the standard of coaching isn’t good in Delhi. 

“There is a need to have better coaching system and better facilities for basketball at college level.” 

Shaily said there are ordinary facilities in most of the colleges in Delhi. 

“There are few indoor facilities. Majority of the basketball tournaments in Delhi are played outdoors, and on hard surfaces,” she added. 

Sarvaria said the state teams should be selected well in advance to undergo at least four weeks of coaching camp.

“For better coordination, players should practice together for more hours,” Sarvaria added. Technical side 

Ashok Sharma, former national level player and technical director of D Ball League, said that approval of Delhi Basketball Association was taken for the smooth conduct of the tournament. “We had qualified officials to conduct the D Ball League as it was approved by the state basketball body,” Sharma said.

According to Sharma, a big electronic board will be installed in future editions for a transparent scoring system to avoid any controversy. The men’s final results were delayed due to technical flaws and it did show the organisers in poor light. 

“We had to manage with the outdoor basketball court at the Hindu College campus because it was organised by college alumni,” Sharma added. 

“We hope the college will improve the facilities in future which will also raise the bar of the D Ball League.”