Home FLASHES Hi5 Youth Foundation- The organisation that believes in ‘bringing change’ through basketball

Hi5 Youth Foundation- The organisation that believes in ‘bringing change’ through basketball

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Hi5 Youth Foundation runs a basketball excellence programme and currently trains over 4000 children across 35 centres in 8 Indian states.

April 2015- The Launch of Hi5 Youth Foundation

When Radhakrishnan and Usha Sundar decided to dedicate more time to social work, they were specific about not replicating already established NGOs’ working on education and rehabilitation; rather they zeroed down on sports- the medium through which they could add value and ‘bring a change’ in the community.

Being non-resident Indians, having resided in the USA, the couple had watched basketball to exist as a cult sport in the West. But, in India, considered to be an elite sport, basketball was far away from being popular.  

In this scenario, Radhakrishnan and Usha Sundar along with P Ramaswamy dared to launch Hi5 Youth Foundation with the mission to revolutionize the state of basketball in India from the grassroot level.

The Rise

Hi5 Youth Foundation identifies young and promising talents across municipality, rural and tribal schools and nurture them to enhance their performance in basketball. During their launch period, the organisation recruited 120 underprivileged children (both boys and girls) from the slums of Mumbai and started training them at a YMCA ground. Within three months, due to the approach of incorporating municipality schools of Mumbai into their scheme, Hi5 was successful in bringing 800 children under its aegis.

Presently Hi5 operates in 8 Indian states with over 4000 children training under experienced coaches. Maharashtra is leading the way with 14 centres, followed by Telengana, West Bengal, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh. 

While commenting on the successful journey of 10 years, Usha Sundar said, “Our children are as par with the elite school students and we try to give at least one winning moment to every child who plays in our team. Our mission is to make them proud of themselves so that they can confidently say, ‘yes I can also do’.”  

Hi5’s Curriculum-based Initiative

The USP of Hi5 Youth Foundation is its structured-based training programme that makes the children strive for excellence and develop character, confidence & courage.

Hope Thru Hoops 

This flagship programme is a multi-year rigorous training programme, where each year children graduate from one level and enter into another level of skilling – very similar to a school system.

Divided into three levels, the Beginner is an ‘Individual Skill’ Level in which a child develops fundamental and basic basketball-specific skills. In the next level known as the Intermediate, the coaches focus on ‘Team Play’ and the child is put into footwork, body control, off-court training, team defense and more. The final level is the Advanced one where the child is trained to ‘Play to Win’, thus letting him/her learn the strategies of the game and giving them the experience of different game-time situations.

The Technical Head of Hi5 Youth Foundation, Kevin Francis elaborated, “Every week we have a lesson plan where there is a goal which we have to achieve at the end of a specific time period. Overall, the children get 300 hours of instructed training throughout the year.”

Holiday Camps

Apart from regular classes, there are Summer Camps and Diwali Camps, where the children get to learn for 4-6 hours daily. These programmes enhance the child’s capability and help in developing the skills further. 

Pathways to Success

While Hope Thru Hoops provides children with confidence and exposure, the Pathways program provides children with skill- based assistance. Usha Sundar said, “Once the children reach the age of 16, some of the parents force their wards to drop out from the programme due to financial constrains. Here we are trying to bridge this gap by providing the right guidance and opportunities to complete their higher education and pursue a successful career in life.”

Strengthening the Programme

To add to their initiatives, Hi5 Youth Foundation has recently appointed Anastasios Traianos as its Head Consultant. Traianos boasts a remarkable 14-year career playing at the highest levels of the sport in Greece and the UK. In his new role, he will be responsible for guiding and supporting Hi5 Youth Foundation’s coaching staff, ensuring they are equipped with the necessary resources and training to deliver excellent programmes.

Hi5 Youth Foundation’s Academy Plans

Usha Sundar informed, “We have already acquired a land where we will be coming up with our own Academy. In these 10 years we have worked on grassroot level, now we will be gradually moving towards elite programmes.” Hi5 Youth Foundation plans to scoop children from the grassroot and put them into the elite programme where there will be a holistic approach.

Stating the vision of Radhakrishnan Sundar, “If you consider cricket in India, its popularity is not an accident. There are coaches and people willing to put money at each level, from gully cricket team to a national-level team. There is a huge flow and pipeline of talent that’s coming out of schools and under-19 teams to reach the national-level team. That’s what we envision to build for basketball in India. What we’re building is sustainable, scalable and has volume and that’s what we need to change the face of basketball in India—we need more people playing basketball!”

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PoulomiKundu started her career in 2000 as a freelance journalist in Hindustan Times. Soon after she was selected an intern in Zee News, Kolkata. After her post- graduation in English, Poulomi joined the leading television production house of eastern India, Rainbow Productions. She was a journalist in Khas Khobor, a Bengali news magazine programme in Doordarshan and also headed the post production department of another programme, Khas Kolkata. In 2004, Poulomi moved to Delhi as a creative writer in an advertising agency, Brand Stewards Pvt. Ltd. In 2005, she again shifted her base for a better opportunity and that in Mumbai. There she got the job in Raa Media Pvt Ltd. as an associate director of two programmes for Doordarshan-Yuva and Paisa Vasool. In the meantime, she also wrote features in DNA as a freelancer. Poulomi directs promotional videos, develops scripts for films for Corporate and NGOs. But an ardent sports lover, Poulomi always had an urge to contribute somewhere in the field of sports. Her love for sports started from an early age when she played gully cricket and football for local teams. Academics and professional hazards sometimes took her away from her passion, but it never died in her. She always nurtured the never-ending dream. So she materialized her dream in the form of ‘SPORTSAVOUR’. It is an online sports portal that serves sports with the tagline ‘For the indigenous, unconventional, unknown’.

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