Saturday, 24th September: Earlier today, at a press conference in New Delhi, the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) announced the INBL 5×5 League.
The press conference was hosted by BFI President Mr K Govindaraj and Secretary General Mr Chander Mukhi Sharma.
What is INBL?
INBL stands for ‘Indian National Basketball League’ and is a series of competitions to provide exposure to players across cities and states, in both the 3×3 and 5×5 formats.
Earlier this year, the first edition of INBL 3×3 was conducted for men and women in multiple cities culminating in a national final.
INBL 5×5 season 1 to feature six teams
Season 1 of INBL 5×5 will feature the following six city-based teams, with players from the “catchment areas” of neighbouring states.
- Chennai: featuring players from Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry
- Mumbai: with players from Maharashtra and Gujarat
- Kolkata: which will include players from North East States
- Chandigarh: with players from Punjab and Haryana
- Bengaluru: featuring players from Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh
- Delhi: with players from Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand
INBL 5×5 first phase in October
The first phase of INBL 5×5 Season 1 will tip off in October, and only national camp players will be invited to participate.
Despite there being six teams, INBL 5×5 Season 1 will be conducted only in “four cities initially” in a home and away format.
monthly remuneration “if possible”
Players will be divided into three categories A, B and C, and monthly remuneration “if possible” will be provided through sponsorship support.
Mr Sharma admitted that remuneration is a must to incentivize the players to perform at a higher level, and emphasised the need to market the event properly to attract sponsor interest.
“[INBL 5×5] not a professional league”
Crucially, Mr Sharma clarified that INBL “is not a professional league, but it is a national league”.
Mr Shama said that the goal is to first expand from 6 cities in season 1, “hopefully” to 12 teams next year. Thereafter, once a quality pool of players is available, a professional league will be announced at a later date.
Other announcements included the conduct of a “sub-junior national league” for U14 players next year, as well as an inter-university league which is “on the agenda”. The press conference also highlighted that an attempt is being made to uniformly train 150 coaches within the next two years, to raise the standard of coaching across the country.
That said, there remained some key unanswered questions:
1) What about women?
Significantly, the press conference did not make it clear if, like INBL 3×3, INBL 5×5 will also be extended to women players.
2) What about players from other states?
The participation status of players from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and Goa remains unclear. It is hoped that these players will be absorbed into the closest city franchise.
3) ‘Home & Away’ or ‘Caravan’ format?
While Mr Sharma mentioned that INBL 5×5 will be conducted in a home and away format, the fact that there are only 4 host cities despite there being 6 teams makes you wonder if, in fact, the tournament will be in a ‘Caravan’ format i.e. all teams travel simultaneously to these venues and thereafter move to the next venue. Adding credence to our ‘Caravan’ format assumption are mainstream media reports that state that the hosting cities for the first phase will be Jaipur (Oct 12 to 16), Cuttack (Oct 26 to 30) and Pune (Dec 14 to 18). None of these cities are ‘home’ venues for any of the 6 teams.
You can watch the full press conference here:
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