By Hong Lau
Man, what a special week we had with one of our creative partners in Dayton, Ohio. If you guys haven’t been following our socials or mine, specifically, I’m talking about the Brown Ballers, aka India Rising. This team represented India and brought together a group of all players from the Indian diaspora.
Representation has always mattered, and I think that’s important in every aspect. But even more important than representation or a “DNI” play, is proving that anyone can do anything they want regardless of background or race.
Growing up of Asian descent, I was always supposed to be a “model minority,” which means a doctor, an engineer, or an accountant. Whenever I said I wanted to be a DJ or anything in sports entertainment, people would look at me like I was crazy. Led by Gautam Kapur and Navin Ramharak, that’s the mission they are on. I spoke to Gautam quite early, and he was like, “The world better not think this is some DNI feel-good story. We’re here to compete.”
I then looked at Gautam and said, "So we’ve got to win" and he said, "That’s what we are going to do." This was on a Monday when we first arrived at the training camp and filmed a bunch of podcasts with a lot of the team. We filmed a lot of content and had some wonderful conversations with most of the team driving this mission forward. I encourage you to tune in over the next two months as the content is engaging and informative.
You could feel this team picking up confidence every single day. It was competitive from day 1, as they brought more players than needed. They got 16 people competing for 12 spots which made it a very intense training camp. You could feel the confidence shifting every single day and just buzzing. The day of, you heard every player/support staff saying we’re going to win with a belief in their voices. Just before the game, I walked into the locker room to grab some water and saw Gautam pacing back and forth. He said, “They’re gonna win.” I looked at him and said have some confidence, “We got this,” he responded with, “Yeah, I know we are going to win.”
The atmosphere was really something that you had to be in person to feel. For those who don’t know, India Rising was the 8th seed (bottom seed), facing the top seed of their region, which just happened to be the home team. They were up against, Red Scare, The University of Dayton’s alumni team on their home court. It was hostile, and it was rocking in there. I won’t talk about the game much, but it was crazy to be maybe out of 5000 people on our team, along with the support crowd of maybe 50 people against an entire home crowd. There were times India Rising went on a run, and the entire building was quiet, and you could hear our team screaming and cheering. I’ll leave it at this. When TJ Lall hit the last shot and took it home for India Rising, we went crazy celebrating on the court. Just enjoying the victory, all the hard work that a group of individuals have put in over the last couple of months. This really isn’t just about winning a basketball game. This is about inspiring the next generation of South Asians that you can do whatever you put your mind to. Basketball, Soccer, Entertainment, Business, whatever you want, go after it. We are proud to have such a platform on our network and looking forward to next year!