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Dreaming Big: Arunachal youths stir basketball passion

Itanagar: From spending their entire life savings to construct a court of their own to hopping from one place to another to play a single match or organize tournaments for the players, a group of youngsters from Arunachal Pradesh have done it all when it comes to promoting the beautiful game of ‘basketball’ in the state.

Pursuing a relatively new sport for the youths who are fonder of other games such as football, these young cagers have left no stone unturned to make the team-sport popular and also help several make it a part of their lives.

“We used to move from one school to another to play a single game of basketball as we did not have a private court in the Itanagar Capital Region earlier. We had to persuade the school authorities that had courts to allow us to play for an hour, or sometimes even minutes,” Tam Pupu, a budding player told NewsFy.

Pupu who is also the joint secretary of the Arunachal Pradesh Basketball Association (APBA), said “the situation was the same or even worse at times when it came to organising tournaments.”

“Conducting tournaments for the players was even difficult due to the lack of courts but somehow we used to manage it. We also tried approaching the government on many occasions under the banner of APBA but never got the support that we needed,” he said.

Tam said despite facing these struggles for almost a decade, they never gave up the idea or hope of having their own court one day.

That is where Donyi Eshi Ori came in.

Donyi, the APBA’s president, said their requests to the government authorities for a plot of land to construct a court never saw the light of day, so he decided to take matters into his own hands.

“After years of denial and despair, I made up my mind to buy a piece of land on my own. I had some savings left then, using which I finally bought a small piece of barren land in Yupia in 2016. Then with the help of the APBA members and a few other well-wishers we managed to turn that land into a cement concrete court this year,” Donyi said.

Donyi (28), who presently plays basketball as a hobby, hopes that the new court will inspire the youngsters to take basketball as a career and he believes that the youths of the state have the potential to do so.

“We recently organized an ‘All Star’ charity match at the newly constructed court in collaboration with the Joint Commission International (JCI), an NGO, and I was overwhelmed to see so many youths participate in it. Our motive to engage more youngsters into sports and keep them away from negative elements is gradually yielding fruits,” he said.

Nani Monyo who plays for ‘Team Rippers’ said she and several other players alike are grateful to the APBA for their efforts to promote basketball, especially for the court.

Monyo (17), who started playing the game since she was in the 7th grade and is now pursuing the MBBS dream, says she would not be surprised if she ends up taking basketball as a profession.

“Now with the establishment of a court at Yupia, I am looking forward to playing many more tournaments and improving my game,” she said, thanking the APBA members for giving equal opportunity to both the male and female players.

Padi Taro, who considers basketball to be a part of his life, said he would always stand beside the APBA and other players for the promotion of the game in the state.

“I first started playing basketball at the Kendra Vidyalaya School court in Naharlagun. The school authorities were very strict when it came to the timings so we never used to get enough playing time. Also, the condition of that court was rough. We then moved to the Don Bosco School in Jollang and later the Rajiv Gandhi University in Rono Hills. I still remember the APBA members repairing the court at Don Bosco to organize a tournament,” Taro said.

Taro (20), who aspires to become a professional basketball player and considers NBA superstar Stephen Curry as his idol says he will keep on supporting the game and other youngsters even if he himself doesn’t make it big in the sports.

Taro plays for Team Swish.

Kipa Yullo who was inspired by her sister to play basketball had a similar thought to share.

We are the ones who had to struggle to play even a game but that never pushed us back. With the new court, it will be easier for others to learn and play the game. Basketball gives me positive vibes and even if I don’t make it big, I’ll always keep playing the game as a hobby, he said.

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