Bengaluru: On 29th August, 2019, at the XXI FIBA Congress held in Beijing, it was announced that BFI President K Govindaraj had been selected for the ‘Presidents Award’, given to the leader of a National Federation from each continent.

As per the official FIBA press release, it was stated that this award was to recognize “the work, commitment and positive impact on basketball made by each person and their National Federation during the past 5 years”, and the award selection was done by FIBA President Horacio Muratore.

Simply put, according to FIBA, India has been one of the best performing countries among all 44 National Federations (NFs) in Asia.

Mr Govindaraj’s recent FIBA elevations

The award to Mr Govindaraj comes fairly close on the heels of his two notable elevations within FIBA’s ranks:

  1. In December 2017, it was reported that Mr Govindaraj had been appointed as a member of the FIBA Competitions Commission (w.e.f. January 1, 2018).
  2. Earlier this June, Mr Govindaraj was elected as a member of the Central Board of FIBA Asia, at the General Assembly of its member federations.
BFI President’s Rise coinciding with fall in Indian Men’s Rankings

Ironically, around the same period as Mr Govindaraj’s above mentioned elevations (i.e. between Dec 2017-Present), the Indian national men’s team’s rankings have fallen from 64 to 67 (including an ignominious first round exit from the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers- losing twice to war ravaged Syria). The boys’ team ranking has slid 6 places from 46 in Dec ’17 to 52 (after momentarily dropping to 56, and then showing a +4 recovery), while both the women’s and girls’ rankings have remained unchanged at 45 and 37 respectively.

That said, while the women’s rankings have remained unchanged, all three of its teams (Sr, U16 and U18) have successfully returned to Asia’s elite Division A grouping. This promotion/relegation drama of India’s women’s teams in Asian competition is nothing new, and it will be interesting to see if these teams are able to retain their positions in Division A or slide back to Division B.

My initial reaction after finding out that FIBA had chosen BFI for this award:

Recognition for Hosting International Events

While Indian teams’ on-court performances evidently leave a lot to be desired, it appears that FIBA’s award is a recognition of BFI’s willingness to host multiple international events. In the last two years alone, Bengaluru has hosted the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup and U16 Women’s Asian Championship in ’17, three home games of the Men’s World Cup Asian Qualifiers (Nov ’17 & Feb ’18) and the U18 Women’s Asian Championship in ’18. Later this September, Bengaluru will yet again be hosting the Women’s Asia Cup.

Looking Ahead

Mr Govindaraj may well be the first official from India to gain such key positions within FIBA’s ranks. This alone is reason enough for the Indian basketball community to take pride in his achievements. However, in the long run, the BFI President’s continued ascendance needs to be matched by the actual rise of India’s teams at the international level.

Gopalakrishnan R
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