Why Did We Choose Basketball

By: Usha Sundar

Here’s a note from one of our co-founders, Usha Sundar, that throws light on why Hi5 Youth Foundation chose basketball as the sport for Hi5 Youth Foundation:

“Now that you’ve read about our founding story here, let me tell you more about our decision to bring basketball coaching to India. When we reflected on which social sector we wanted to grow our efforts in, we primarily thought of exploring the ‘education’ space. But, soon, we learnt that there are quite a few NGOs already making huge impact in that sector and we wanted to do something different that hadn’t really been done before.

To throw some light on our background, our family lived in the US for about 15 years before my husband and I moved back to Mumbai. We’ve watched both our sons growing up there, receiving their primary education in the United States. While growing up, both our sons played basketball in school and Sundar, my husband, was also very fond of the game. Soon, the sport had found its place in our everyday life and we observed how positively basketball had impacted our children.

We further reflected on the various benefits of sports-based programs on young children, from decreased antisocial behavior, goal orientation to healthy living. So, naturally, we started thinking about how to bring these positive benefits of playing sports to young children in India, especially to those who didn’t have access to it and needed the guidance and support.

And apart from our familiarity to basketball as a sport, we also realised its value as a team game. There are five people to a team and everyone has a role when the game is on, unlike other team games that are popular in India, like football and cricket where not all team members are active or participative. In basketball, it’s collaborative effort and playing as a team that helps you win—just like in the game of life, where working together and in a team will help you find success.

Just to give you an example, consider recent series of studies by Ernst & Young that surveyed 821 high-level female executives. They found out that 90% of them played sports. Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett-Packard, was the captain of the swim team and also played varsity lacrosse, tennis and basketball. At Princeton University she played NCAA squash and lacrosse. In her book “The Power of Many,” Whitman writes: “I liked team sports the best. When I’m pulling a business team together, I still use those basketball aphorisms I learned as a young person: ‘Let’s pass the ball around a little before game time.’ ‘Do we need man-to-man or zone defense?'” These women attribute their ability to work as a team, to strategize, to communicate and lead to having played sports when they were younger. Basketball also involves a lot of activity, right from using your brain to strategize the play to using both your hands and feet, a complete body workout, when you’re playing. You’re making quick decisions in a short period of time that’s crucial to your game. These are valuable skills to learn as a young person.