Ekalavya awardee speaks the truth about basketball

23-year-old Basketball player, Kruthika Lakshman, bagged the Eklavya Awards for the year 2011-12. She is originally from Mysore but has been in Bangalore for the last 10 years. She was admitted to Sports School, Vidya Nagar,Yelahanka in 2003 and that’s where her career started.

Interestingly, she chose volleyball game at the sports school, but was pulled into basketball team because of her height. Since then there has been no looking back. In the six months, after she joined the Sports school, she started playing at the state level and finally in December 2006 she represented India.

She says it was her third and final attempt to apply for the awards and thankfully she got it. She believes that it is a big morale booster for her. Citizen Matters spoke to this Jayanagar 3rd Block resident about her love for this game.

Kruthika Lakshman Pic Courtesy: Kruthika Lakshman

You have been playing basketball since 2003. In the last years what has been your observation regarding the scope for the players?

Certainly the scope is very limited. If we compare to other countries like China, Japan , Korea, they have proper infrastructure, better facility etc. Those countries have national basketball camps for a long period of time compared to ours. For example, we rank 42 in the world and China ranks 9th in the world, still they have camps for one year or so. We don’t. We need better platform. We need more practice.

If we speak only about infrastructure, how is the scenario in India. What is the situation in Bangalore?

Instead of practising in the cement court, if we practise in the wooden court, we would perform better. On the cemented court we play with the rubber balls in whereas we use leather balls on wooden courts. And the national level matches are conducted in wooden courts. Playing on the cemented court affects (our) long term career. It exerts lot of pressure on the legs as there is no cushioning like in the wooden court. We become susceptible to frequent knee injuries.Bangalore too has the same scenario. There may be some wooden courts available but not easily accessible. I too practise in the cemented court only.

In terms of coaching, how are foreign coaches different from Indian coaches?

There are lot of differences. Unlike Indian coaches, foreign coaches don’t emphasise on early morning practice. Under them, we practice after eating heavy breakfast so that we have strength, stamina and endurance. But Indian coaches prefer to train us early 6.30 in the morning, which makes us tired soon.

Kruthika completed her graduation in commerce and attributes much of her success to her alma mater Mount Carmel College, Vasanth Nagar. She says that the college was supportive in all aspects while she was busy playing Basketball matches for India.

Do basketball players have job security in the public sector?

Men, have better options than women in Basketball. They can get through in Railways, Banks, ONGC, Income Tax, Customs etc but for women, the only scope is in Railways. There too the jobs are limited. If the particular state women’s team is not placed in top three nationally, we are unable to get jobs in Railways till group ‘C’, which at least ensures a clerical post. We don’t want to take group ‘D’ as even 10th standard pass can avail this option. Due to this, most players don’t continue knowing what they would end up with. We definitely need some financial security.

You graduated in 2011 in commerce, do you work anywhere as of now?

After graduation I played for sometime. I joined a sports management company, Leapstart, four months back. The company has tied up with different schools in Bangalore to train kids for foundations of any sports. Schools have leapstart period like other periods. I train those kids in basketball.

Who is your favourite basketball player?

Michael Jordan, an american professional Basketball player is favorite player. I keep watching his matches.

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