Mason Faculty Members Take Basketball to India

Posted: November 11, 2009 at 1:03 am, Last Updated: November 10, 2009 at 3:35 pm

By Rashad Mulla

Robert Baker

Robert Baker

Two Mason faculty members are currently traveling in India as part of a U.S. Department of State cultural exchange program meant to develop awareness of basketball in the country.

Robert Baker, associate professor of sport management, and Craig Esherick, assistant professor of sport management, will hold combined coaching clinics and youth basketball camps in various cities throughout India. The trip is funded by an International Sports Initiative grant.

The grant, awarded through the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, will fund a multipart plan meant to provide a formative experience in the lives of participating Indian boys and girls.

Clinics and camps will be held in six cities in India, with Baker and Esherick providing direct instruction, cross-cultural exchanges and hands-on experiences for players, coaches and league administrators. The goals are to enhance skill development and broaden participants’ understanding of diverse cultures.

Craig Esherick

Craig Esherick

“Basketball has become wildly popular all over the globe,” says Esherick. “We have a chance to help popularize basketball in a country that has not yet wrapped its arms around this sport. Our trip is also a great opportunity to exchange ideas about coaching all sports, as well as to discuss best practices in sport management.”

Baker and Esherick have partnered with J.D. Walsh, a former player and coach who is also the founder of JDBASKETBALL, a basketball school that was founded in 1998 and has now become a global enterprise.

On the current weeklong trip, the group will visit New Delhi and Kolkata for their first clinics. Baker and Esherick plan to return to India in the spring to visit Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Chennai. The Basketball Federation of India, local universities and YMCAs will provide classroom space and access to basketball courts for the clinics.

“The fact that the State Department has a program for grants to use sport on an international cultural exchange and development basis is recognition of sport as a cultural connection,” says Baker, who is also the director of Mason’s Center for Sport Management.

“Our intent is to take the best practices of basketball leadership in the U.S. to India.”

While traveling in India, Baker and Esherick will identify 10 sports leaders to travel to the United States in summer 2010 to attend a coaching academy at Mason.

During their time in Virginia, Indian coaches and administrators will receive instruction in sport management, participate in extensive interactive exchange with American sport officials and undertake an opportunity for coaching certification. They will stay in campus housing, learn from Mason faculty and take trips to various sporting facilities in the area.

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