KUALA LUMPUR (FIBA Asia Championship for Women) – The FIBA Asia Executive Committee on Friday decided to award the hosting of the 23rd FIBA Asia Championship for Women to Chennai, the Southern coastal city in India.
The Championship will be played from Sept 17-24, 2009.
It may be recalled the Championship was originally scheduled to be played in Chinese Taipei from June 21-28, before CTBA expressed their inability to host the Championship.
The 23rd FIBA Asia Championship for Women will feature 12 teams – divided into two levels.
The top three teams from Level I of the Championship will book their berth to the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Women scheduled to be held in Czech Republic from Sept 23 to Oct 3, 2010.
Chennai, the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, has a rich tradition of sport and culture.
Among the many top sporting events the city has hosted are the South Asian Federation Games in 1995 and the Champions Trophy hockey tournaments in 1996 and 2005.
Chennai also has a permanent spot in the ATP professional tennis circuit, hosting the Chennai Open, which in the recent years has acted as the preparatory tournament for the year’s opening Grand Slam – the Australian Open.
The 23rd FIBA Asia Championship for Women in Chennai will see the return of FIBA Asia events to India after a gap of five years.
The last time a FIBA Asia event was held in India was when Bangalore, a city not very far from Chennai, hosted the 18th FIBA Asia U18 Championship for Men in 2005.
The other FIBA Asia events played in India earlier were: the 15th ABC Championship for Junior Women in New Delhi in 2000, the 15th ABC Championship for Junior Men in Calcutta in 1998 and the 11th ABC Championship for Senior Men in Calcutta way back in 1991.
This will be the first time India will host the FIBA Asia Championship for Women.
At Chennai, the news was received with enthusiasm and excitement.
The Championship will be powered by the Government of Tamil Nadu with senior Cabinet Minister in the State government Mr. Arcot N Veerasamy at the forefront as the Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee.
"This is a happy moment for the city of Chennai to be selected to host such a prestigious event, which also doubles up as the qualifier for the World Championship. Sportlovers of Chennai in general, and basketball lovers of Tamil Nadu, in particular, are excited that the 23rd FIBA Asia Championship for Women will be held in their city," said Veerasamy, who holds the important Electricity portfolio in the State government cabinet.
"Chennai and Tamil Nadu have a rich history and tradition of sport. The city of Chennai is home to many of the top basketballers in India, including Geetu Anna Jose, the leading player in the current Indian women’s team," the minister added.
"This is a golden opportunity for the basketball lovers of Chennai to witness their own girls playing at home. It is also an opportunity for the Indian women to display their wares in front of a knowledgeable and basketball loving crowd," he said.
Indian women will play in Level I along with five others – China, Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei and Thailand the most likely other participants in Level I.
"The Government of Tamil Nadu, under the leadership of (Chief Minister) Dr Kalaignar M Karunanidhi and the able guidance of (Deputy Chief Minister) MK Stalin, welcomes all the participating teams and delegates with the assurance of a wonderful Championship," said Mr. TPM Mohideen Khan, the Minister for Environment and Sports.
"I am told India will host a FIBA Asia event after five years. I am also told that India will host this particular Championship for the first time. We are all looking forward to providing an excellent example of Indian hospitality and organizing capabilities," said Satyabrata Sahoo, Member Secretary, Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT).
The Championship will be played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium multi-purpose indoor complex, which falls under the purview of the SDAT.
"Naturally we are all excited about hosting the event," said Harish Sharma, Secretary General of the Basketball Federation of India.
"The Indian women’s team has shown some notable progress in the last couple of years, including entering the elite Level I in the last tournament in Incheon in 2007. We hope they show an even more improved performance at home," he added.
"Overall, I think hosting this Championship in Chennai will boost the image and chances of women’s basketball in India," Harish Sharma said.
Surely at least a million voices will echo those thoughts of Harish Sharma!