Dubai: A team of former Indian basketball players have come together as a team to visit the UAE in an attempt to promote the game at the grassroots level here.
The Good Morning Club (GMC) comprising players who formerly represented India, all-India government organisations and state teams, is scheduled to land at the Dubai International Airport on February 14 and at least two exhibition matches have been scheduled at schools in Dubai.
“These players have all played basketball at quite a level and our aim now is to have them pass on their invaluable knowledge to youngsters here in the UAE,” Ali T., one of the organisers told Gulf News.
“In recent years, basketball has shown a lot of promise especially in India and we want to cash in on this and further help in the development of the game,” he added.
A 1936 founding member of Fiba Asia, India has qualified for the Fiba Asia Championship 24 times. Their most memorable win came against home favourites China whom they beat at the Fiba Asia Cup in 2014.
The first of the exhibition matches will be at 4 pm on February 15 at the New Indian Model School (Nims) in Al Garhoud, Dubai, while the second one will be played at the indoor hall of Delhi Private School Dubai at 6 pm on February 17, the same day when the Beatrice UAE Open Basketball tournament finals are scheduled to take place.
Former Indian captain Unwin Antony, a deputy commandant with Kerala Police, will spearhead the veteran side which takes part in senior state and national age group competitions and in motivational programmes for upcoming talent in India.
Supporting him will be former India stars including Indian Bank manager C.V. Sunny, also a former India skipper and a coach of the current Indian national team; Thomas Varghese, retired senior customs and excise official, and George Zachariah, senior manager, Indian Overseas Bank.
Making up the rest of the squad are experienced former state players K.M. George, Jose Kurian, retired deputy commandant; Jose Joseph, retired customs inspector; Philip Zachariah, retired chief engineer, Kerala State Electricity Board, Jaishekhar, Sugunan and Jerrard.
The tour is being coordinated by the pioneer coaches of grassroot development in the sport in the UAE for the past two decades IBS-UAE, the only registered expat non-profit sports organisation with the Indian Business Council at the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce.
(February 15) 4 pm: GMC vs All Stars Dubai (NIMS Dubai indoor stadium)
(February 17) 6 pm: GMC vs Beatrice Dubai (DPS Dubai indoor hall)