From the sale of Rohit Kumar for ₹17.5 lakh and of seasoned setter Ranjit Kumar for over ₹12 lakh, to the drafting of a pool of top-class foreign players, there was plenty of action in the Prime Volleyball League players auction in Kolkata on Thursday.
Muin Bek Hafeez, the captain of the Indian basketball team, is hoping for such a day in his sport. The Basketball Federation of India’s new National League (INBL) begins in Kochi on Sunday and the players, mostly national campers past and present, were put into various teams by a panel which included the national head coach and the BFI secretary general for the event.
“We didn’t have an auction. They told us they would pay some amount, we don’t know what it will be. May be next year, they should go for a players auction,” said Hafeez, also the captain of the Tamil Nadu team that won the Senior Nationals in April and the National Games title recently.
And the 26-year-old is not complaining.
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“At least we have something, instead of nothing. That’s what we are happy about. The federation is taking action and by the third season, I think we will have foreign players and will be paid more,” said Hafeez, who played throwball in his school days and went the Nationals before taking up basketball at 16.
“We didn’t expect foreign players this time but we need them. They are taller; having them will also help us understand their system of training. When this league grows, we have to have international players so that we can also compete against them.”
Currently ranked 85 in the world rankings, India lost to World No. 35 Jordan (64-80) at Amman and No. 43 Lebanon (63-95) in Bengaluru recently in the FIBA Asia’s World Cup qualifiers. “We have the potential but we don’t have much international exposure. Through this league, if we get to play more, if we play throughout the year, we will be in shape,” said Hafeez.