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Volume 6 No. 197

People and Pop Culture

YANNICK COLACO is the managing director of NBA India's Mumbai-based office. Colaco joined NBA India in early '13 after holding previous positions with IMG and Indian sports marketing company Nimbus. Colaco spoke with SBD Global about grassroots programs, NBA viewership and the possibility of a future professional basketball league in India.

On grassroots efforts to promote basketball ...
Yannick Colaco
: The sports market in India is growing extremely fast, but it’s been largely dominated by cricket -- international cricket, domestic cricket and IPL [Indian Premier League]. One of the crucial ingredients for any sport outside of cricket to grow is essentially building from the grassroots up. We’re fundamentally focused on screening the game of basketball in India and growing our fan base. Both are intertwined. We’re focused on running grassroots programs to drive participation and grow the game from the bottom up. We have a large program that we run with a company called Reliance, the largest private company in India. We’ve launched a program with them called the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA Program, which is completely focused on school kids. It’s a comprehensive, school-based program where basketball is built into the curriculum. We have already completed year one of the program and we ran it only in two cities. The first year of the program we had over 130,000 kids. We’re now taking the program to eight cities across India to reach over 700,000 kids.

On a professional basketball league in India ...
: IMG-Reliance has a partnership with the Basketball Association of India. They’ve announced in the past that their partnership includes the conceptualization and launch of a professional basketball league. There’ve been a number of announcements. It could happen in the next year to 14 months. That’s something that [IMG-Reliance] is working on with the Basketball Association of India. From our perspective, anything that helps grow the game of basketball is good for us. We welcome any activities by IMG, Reliance or the Basketball Association of India that continue the growth of basketball in India.

On social media and viewership ...
Colaco: Everything we do is to target the age demographic from 7 to about 38. We start with the youth. India has over 600 million people under the age of 25. There are over 300 million under the age of 18. So the size of the market is so large. Basketball is something we believe we can reach this demographic with. We’ve got about a million followers on Facebook and Twitter all from India. And it’s growing really quickly. So [social media] is a really important platform for what we’re doing. Television is also a really important platform. We have a partnership with one of the biggest sports broadcasters in India called Sony Six. This year, we actually showed 14 live games a week. Every morning from 5:30am until 11:30am there were two back-to-back NBA games throughout the season. We had this promotion that we worked on with our partners, Sony Six. It basically was called #NBAMorningsOnSix. We focused on trying to create appointment viewing with our demographic. You don’t even have to look at the schedule. You tune in to Sony Six every morning during the season and you’re going to get live, entertaining NBA basketball. And it really worked. For example, our games are second only to the English Premier League in non-cricketing sports, which is phenomenal. Our television viewership has gone up by over 200 percent this year. ... In terms of actual unique viewers that sampled NBA live content throughout the season, we grossed 40 million.

On the possibility of a future Indian NBA player ...
Colaco: It would be great if we had an Indian player, obviously, in the NBA. But we’re not basing our plans around that. We’re basing our plans saying that we’re going to focus on growing the game of basketball in India irrespective of that. We’re going to continue working with developing and giving the youth the opportunity to play the sport. We want to continue giving them the correct curriculum, and if they’re good, talented, hardworking and passionate, provide them the possibility to eventually make it to the NBA.

Frenchman HERVE RENARD, who led Zambia to the African Nations Cup title in '12, "was on Thursday named as Ivory Coast coach." He takes charge of Africa's second-ranked team in place of SABRI LAMOUCHI, "whose contract was not renewed after the Ivorians failed to get past the first round at the World Cup in Brazil last month" (REUTERS, 7/31). ... Indian Super League side Delhi Dynamos FC has announced HARM VAN VELDHOVEN "as its manager" (INDIAN TELEVISION, 7/31).

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MAGIC JOHNSON and a team of former NBA players "canceled their participation in the opening ceremony of the new Jerusalem Arena due to the ongoing rocket fire and the IDF’s operation in Gaza." Scheduled "to take part in an exhibition game against Hapoel Jerusalem," they notified the organizers earlier this week that "due to the security situation in Israel they will not be traveling to the country" (JERUSALEM POST, 7/31). ... Three Glasgow 2014 security guards "were removed from their roles for taking photographs" with the Jamaican sprinter USAIN BOLT. Bolt "was training at the Lesser Hampden track beside Hampden Park earlier in the week when the three staff members approached him and asked for a 'selfie'" (London TELEGRAPH, 7/31). ... The men who kidnapped CARLOS TEVEZ's father told him that they wanted the Argentina player "to forgive them for what they had done." SEGUNDO TEVEZ revealed that his kidnappers "were apologetic over their actions." Segundo told the police that the gang said, "Carlos is our idol. He's the greatest there is. We don't want to hurt him. Why would we? The problem is we've got children and we need the money. We haven't got any alternative. We hope he forgives us" (London DAILY MAIL, 7/31). ... Two-time Grand Slam champion LI NA "pulled out of the US Open on Thursday, because of a knee injury which she said has bothered her for several months." The only player from China to win a Grand Slam singles title "also withdrew from hard-court tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati over the next two weeks" (AP, 7/31). ... Australia's head athletics coach ERIC HOLLINGSWORTH "has been sent home from the Commonwealth Games for issuing a public statement critical of Olympic champion" SALLY PEARSON on the eve of her 100m hurdles defense. Australia team chief STEVE MONEGHETTI announced that Hollingsworth "had breached his team agreement and would be on the first available plane home from Glasgow" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/1). ... Former F1 driver MARK WEBBER "has taken to Twitter to hit out against" former boss and Red Bull Racing Team Principal CHRISTIAN HORNER's comments that F1 bosses "should stop trying to control their drivers." Horner said, "We need to allow the drivers to express themselves more without them being hit by criticism. We need to allow their personalities to come out." Webber "jumped on social media after the comments, using the old saying about the pot calling the kettle black to suggest Horner was a hypocrite" (NEWS CORP AUSTRALIA, 7/31). ... STEVE HOOKER "has quit his duties as commentator for host Commonwealth Games broadcaster Network Ten," after his athlete wife, middle-distance runner EKATERINA KOSTETSKAYA, "was banned for drug use" (AAP, 7/31).

NBC Sports' WILL BUXTON: "Apparently Orlando Bloom punched Justin Bieber last night after the little git gobbed off about his ex wife. Orlando, you absolute hero."

Bloomberg's TARIQ PANJA: "In past Man Utd didn't have performance-related clauses in commercial deals. Perhaps Adidas deal so rich club had to insert this time."

The AP's ROB HARRIS: "From the Proclaimers to bagpipes here at Hampden"

Former English football player MICHAEL OWEN: "Back to work tomorrow. Filming Friday and a weekend commentating at The Emirates Cup. Can't wait for the season to get started again."

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