In mainland India, there are many stereotypes and misconceptions about people from the North East region of the country. They are catcalled and made to feel like they aren't a part of the country. However, with more citizens from the North-Eastern states claiming their right to occupy public space, there has been a shift in the mindset. One such person helping with the cause is 24-year-old, Nima.
Nima Doma from Sikkim has made it to the Indian basketball team for the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament, which will be held in Malaysia from November 14 to 17. This victory is an exceptional one for Nima. Why, you ask? Between 2015 to 2019, she was invited from 2015 to 2019 at least seven Indian team probables camps, only to get rejected in the final selection.
Talking about her journey in an interview with a media portal, she said, "It was very difficult for me, but I love my dream to play for the country more than these rejections. I knew that if I give up I will be letting down my coach, my parents and all the basketball players from the North East, especially girls."
It was in 2007 that Nima, only 12 years old then, was among the first batch of girls to pick up basketball at the Eklavya Model Residential School (EMRS), Gangyap in Sikkim. The school's principal Sidharth Yonzone was a huge NBA fan and had introduced basketball as a sport and even doubled up as a coach. After playing on a mud court for long, Nima and her friends actually carved out a proper court with their bare hands, on the Himalayan mountain range.
Woah, hats off!
EMRS won the CBSE National School Championship twice, beating sides from Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. Nima was obviously ready to take a leap into the big league having competed with some of India's best basketball players. However, Sikkim was still awaiting formal affiliation with the Basketball Federation of India.
Having no choice, after school Nima moved to Madhya Pradesh and joined the Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education in Gwalior. This gave her a chance to compete in the National Championships as a member of the MP State team, which led to her first India camp appearance in 2015.
EMRS coach, Yonzone, is as excited as Nima about her selection in the Indian basketball team. "Now the goal is for ‘NimDo’ to cement her place in the Indian team which will then open doors for her other Gangyap teammates like Rinchen," said the coach when he spoke to a media portal.
He is referring to Rinchen Doma Bhutia who is also studying in LNIPE and like Nima was the caption of the MP State team.
He added, "Nima is already considered a role model here [in Sikkim and its neighbouring areas]. In the Paljor Namgyal Girls School in Gangtok, the students have posters and cutouts of Nima in their hostel rooms. I have travelled with Nima for camps to Gangtok, Kalimpong and Darjeeling and have seen boys and girls queuing up for autographs."
Till now, only one player from the Noth East got a chance to wear the Indian jersey. He was- H Laldinsanga, a point guard from Mizoram, who represented India in a single tournament – the Middle Asia Zone Qualifiers in Delhi back in 2005.
We're so proud of you, Nima. All the best for the upcoming tournament, the Indian jersey will look great on you.
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