Railways and Services may miss basketball national championship

Both the government units had defaulted in paying their subscription to the national federation and had also allowed their players to compete in the UBA championship in Pune in July, much against the warning of the national federation.

96 players who had competed in the unrecognised UBA championship apart from the coaches and officials were declared ineligible to compete in the national championships.   -  Special Arrangement

Two of the giant pillars of Indian sports, Railways and Services, may not figure in the 67th National basketball championship to be staged in Puducherry from January 7 to 14.

Both the government units had defaulted in paying their subscription to the national federation and had also allowed their players to compete in the UBA championship in Pune in July, much against the warning of the national federation.

With the national federation not getting the recognition from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and Union Sports Ministry, both the Railway and Services had stated that they were not able to pay the fee to an unrecognised federation.

As per its constitution, the national federation, which has the recognition from the international federation, has taken a stand that it would not allow teams defaulting on subscription to compete in the subsequent national championships.

Moreover, the federation was clear in its warning that the UBA championship, organised by a private party from the US, was without consent, and the State associations and other units may face disciplinary action if they allow their players to compete in that event.

Thus, 96 players who had competed in the unrecognised UBA championship apart from the coaches and officials were declared ineligible to compete in the national championships.

In an attempt to counter the tough stand of the national federation, it is believed that both the Railways and Services were contemplating the idea of not giving ‘’no objection certificate’’ (NOC) to any of their players to compete for any State teams.

It was believed that the Services had relented from its stand and was willing to pay the subscription, but that it was stumped by the clarity of the national federation that the teams cannot field players who had competed in the UBA championship, as it was viewed as a strong case of indiscipline.

Railways is a powerhouse in the women’s section and a perennial champion, while the Services is the defending champion in the men’s section.

Even before the recent issues of subscription and UBA related matters, both the Railways and Services had not released their players to represent the country in the Asian Basketball Championship.

Quite interestingly, the Railways had relented in its stand and had given concession passes for teams to travel for national championships in recent months, organised by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI). The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has also allowed its coaches to be part of the federation activities.

Unlike the vertical split in some of the national federations, in basketball it was a clear case of the federation being on one side with its president, secretary general and treasurer, and the other faction trying to dictate purely on the powers of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) without the constitutional support.

Thus, while the international federation promptly dealt with the issue quite categorically, both the IOA and the Sports Ministry have been dragging their feet on the issue of recognising a validated national federation, purely on political consideration.