This was originally published on Quora as Laura Hale’s answer to “Why is Tamil Nadu the hotbed of wheelchair basketball in India?” on February 4.
As a sport, wheelchair basketball is in its infancy in India. A national organization to oversee the sport was not created until 2014. Without knowing enough about the Indian sport system, the limited evidence I have suggests Tamil Nadu is one of the major centers of wheelchair basketball in India because of the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu. They appear to have been willing to make investments in the sport. This leadership at this stage gives them a first mover advantage over other Indian states.
The Sports Development Authority has been willing to work with and successfully pull off events in assistance with international non-profits such as Choice International. They have also been able to bring in international experts from outside the national framework to support their local efforts. This includes getting Nepal Army Wheelchair Basketball Team coach Michael Rosenkrantz to be a resource for their local wheelchair basketball program. At the same time, they’ve also been able to get national support and international support for their local programs. They’ve also been at the head of efforts to organize national competitions.
Beyond events run through the Sports Development Authority, local hospitals and medical facilities in Tamil Nadu have been including wheelchair basketball as part of their rehabilitative efforts. This includes CMC – Vellore.
Tamil Nadu has hosted a number of wheelchair basketball events. In December 2013, they had a wheelchair basketball and boccia clinic that involved 30 different participants. In January 2014, Chennai Eagles Wheelchair Basketball Club started to have weekly practices that were open to many people to come and participate. In July 2014, over 50 Tamil Nadu base wheelchair basketball players attend an week long training camp that featured coaches from Australia and the United Kingdom. Around the same time at the Tiruvannamalai SDAT District Sports Complex, a camp was held to train local coaches. CMC – Vellore conducted wheelchair basketball workshops in November and December 2014.
With international coaches in attendance, SDAT, StarHealth, GSH and Wrightbus hosted a nine day wheelchair basketball camp at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in December 2014, bringing in 88 players from Tamil Nadu and an additional 52 players from other regions of India, with the next largest regional group coming from Karnataka and including 22 players.
In December 2014, the various groups in Tamil Nadu worked to organize the inaugural Indian Wheelchair Basketball Championship, which had four divisions: League, National, Women and Corporate. This competition was one by Maharashtra, who beat Delhi. In the League competition, 2 of the 4 teams in the A division were from Tamil Nadu. In the B division, Dindigul Pudhu Vazhvu from Tamil Nadu claimed the top position in a tie.
In September 2015, the region also hosted coaching, classifying, referee and player workshops. This was sponsored by the WBFI with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross. The workshops brought in people from around India and Nepal to develop the sport.
At the same time that all of this has been going on in Tamil Nadu, the sport has had limited development in other regions of India. Most of this activity has been regionally limited to Delhi, Kerala, and Karnataka, representing major activity in only four of India’s twenty-nine states. Early government involvement, being able to successfully pull off events, lack of other states investing in the sport and first mover advantage all explain Tamil Nadu’s positioning as a leader in wheelchair basketball in India.