Tiruvalla, 22nd December 2016

Dr. James Naismith. Image credits: World YMCA

It was Dec. 21, 1891 when Dr. James Naismith set down on a scratch pad, the first set of 13 rules on the wall of the YMCA Training School at Sherman and State streets in Springfield, MA. It has been 125 years since Dr. James Naismith climbed a ladder and nailed the first peach basket on a wall inside the Armory Street court in Springfield, MA. Little did he know what he was giving birth to!

On the very day in 2016, began the countdown to the ‘Mega Kerala Hoopathon’ to be celebrated on Jan 20th 2017,  where 125 basketball courts will be inaugurated all over Kerala with as many as 12,500 children participating to score 12,500 points.

The YMCA at Kottayam will be leading this celebration as the very first basketball court was constructed in Kottayam in 1926 – 90 years back.

Mr. Abraham Kurian Palampadam inaugurates the 125th anniversary of basketball by cutting a cake. Image credits: Kerala Basketball Association

An event to flag off this countdown was organised by Kottayam YMCA along with REBOUND and Kottayam District Basketball Association. The event began with a shooting competition at the YMCA CMS Valley Sports Complex, followed by the quasquicentenary rally which was flagged off by the President Mr. Abraham Kurian Palampadam and culminated at the YMCA hall with a “Sangamam” honouring the former players of the YMCA. The senior players and coaches went the extra mile to ensure the success of this event by spreading the word and ensuring participation.

Being a former player of Kottayam YMCA, Mohammed Iqbal – the former International president of REBOUND – believes that the ‘Mega Kerala Hoopathon’ holds significance beyond just the celebration of 125 years.

“I think it’s important to have an event that not only honours the anniversary of the game, but one that also honours all the former members of the basketball programme,” he said. “When you have a chance to bring everyone back, it’s a truly special opportunity for all of us.”

All 14 districts of Kerala joined the celebrations as former players joined hands with the support of the district units. In the capital of Kerala, speaker of the Kerala Legislative Assembly, P. Sreeramakrishnan joined the celebration at museum ground along with YMCA Trivandrum. The celebrations at Ernakulum, at the Regional Sports Centre, were carried out by “REBOUNDERS” along with the Ernakulum District Basketball Association and in Kozhikode, the celebrations at Manchira Maidan was flagged off by District Sports Council Secretary Shri. K. J. Mathai. In Palakkad, T. K. Sheshadri, V. V. Harilala and Renny led the celebrations.

A presentation by the children of SH School, Kottayam. Image credits: Kerala Basketball Association

In Alappuzha, along with the YMCA, Sri Thomas J Fen, Shanthal Jyothi Public School in Muttam, Idukki, Nehru College at Kanghagad in Kasargod, St Marys HSS Mullankolly in Wayanad, Kannur Sports Division in Kannur were among the centres which joined the celebrations. The day was filled with exciting events, but for most attendees, they were just happy to see some old friends and share memories.

The game has evolved in numerous ways from that one peach basket nailed to a wall in the Springfield Armoury 125 years ago. The opportunity for basketball alumni from years past to once again walk through the doors, watch their sport with pride, and rekindle relationships with old friends, will be a reminder for all basketball players, past or present, as they chose this anniversary as an event to reminisce in old memories.

Team Ekalavyas
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