This Bengaluru sports academy goes ‘Beyond Basketball’ to teach youth life skills


Playing a sport often provides life lessons and understanding them goes beyond the sport itself. On the same lines, an eight-year-old basketball academy in Bengaluru has been going “Beyond Basketball” to teach the youth about discipline, love and respect.

Hoops Genesis, a basketball academy started by “Coach Inno” and “Coach Sha” has been teaching dozens of young people from schools and colleges in Bengaluru not just basketball skills but life skills to stay away from many of the perils of youth — from addiction to mental health problems. “Beyond Basketball” is the tagline of the academy.

“You know the youth, it’s easy to get to them through sport and activity, it’s difficult to sit them down as if you’re going to take a session…No one is going to sit and pay attention for more than five minutes,” says Innocent Kwizera, a Nigerian national, who is “Coach Inno”.

Kwizera, and Sharika D V or “Coach Sha”, a Bengaluru basketball player, started the Hoops Genesis academy in 2015 with a vision to help the sports community of the city.

Located within Embassy Tech Village in Bellandur, the academy hosts a number of students coming for football and basketball training.

basketball At the academy, the students are imparted with the values and skills that are much needed in today’s world.

Before they were coaches, they were players and they spent years learning and experiencing all that the game had to offer. Kwizera has played in over six countries and won championships in Uganda and Rwanda. He played in various leagues but he first played in the Ugandan National league where he won a championship and two individual “MVP’s”.

Sharika played for St Joseph’s College of Commerce and Mount Carmel College, two of the most prestigious colleges in Bangalore. She was the vice captain in her 2nd year and moved on to captaining the team which won most of their championships.

She played multiple nationals at all age categories and even played the first 3×3 nationals conducted in India. She also captained the nationals team at the IMG Reliance Nationals conducted in Delhi where her team reached the semi-finals.

“I was trained by a few people, like Mike Holland the CEO of Embassy, trained by Marx a top manager of Shell, the late Doctor Chip, an evangelist and also the owner/founder of Provision Asia which works with the differently abled and Dr Akash Ryall, the director of Bethany Institutions,” says Kwizera.

The learnings pushed him to start a basketball academy where he could use the gift of his basketball skills to help people find themselves.

“It took us years of planning and with the help of Ryall, on February 21, 2015, we were able to start Hoops Genesis. It was started to instil life values into the kids of India so we could try and change their lives,” says Kwizera.

The academy hosts students of all ages, starting as young as four and going upwards. “Everyone who is or who has been a part of Hoops Genesis will always be family”, is a common phrase heard at the practice sessions at academy.

“He joined us when he was 12, a very foolish boy but now he’s killing guys on the court,” says “Coach Inno” about one of the earliest recruits to the academy who has remained at the academy to become one of its most accomplished players. “I can see him playing at a crazy international level and right now I can say that he is playing at a state level.”

Another player who has adopted the academy as his family is Tarun Samuel. The coaches are happy that they could take him under their wings. “Both these kids come from modest backgrounds and I wouldn’t say poor in the financial sense but poor in terms of personal struggles,” says the coach.

Tarun, a kid who was put down by many is now someone that is watched by millions of people, playing against the very people that put him down. To the coaches his growth is a large accomplishment.

Some players even pursue the sport from other angles. Jeremiah grew up in the academy and recently left for the United States to study and pursue sports management.

“A 45 minute game is very much like life. Each decision influences what happens next. I’m grateful to the coaches for being there for my son and guiding him as he goes through life,” says Smitha Elizabeth, a parent of a trainee at the academy.

The company has also branched out to Rwanda. Kwizera in collaboration with Wilson, the Point Guard of the Uganda national team, have inspired the youth to spend their time at the court. “We have four guys there who are crazy focused. Wilson and I have helped them with shoes, clothing etc and they are now playing in the national team.”

At the academy, the students are imparted with the values and skills that are much needed in today’s world. Lessons are learnt at almost every practice session as one has to introspect and see how they fared in both the game and the way they handled situations.

“Their involvement in gangs, fights, unhealthy company all slowly reduce and the kids begin to commit more time to the academy than to the outside world,” say the coaches.

Another way the academy develops the skills of the students is by hosting events. Three women’s day events were conducted in 2020 and 2021 and 2022, where the students were assigned roles and responsibilities.

All three events were large scale and the students were taught to be extremely professional. This also helps the way the teams arrive for tournaments. All wearing uniform shirts, jerseys, hoodies etc. They make sure to make themselves presentable with their hair cut, nails trimmed, and shoes clean.


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