‘Whistle-blower’ sans pareil

By Azhikkakath Joseph Antony

The solitary cement-surface basketball court at YMCA, Secunderabad, boxed in by a recent road widening, is a nursery of international talent. Traffic on its two sides often drowns the high action game’s audible attributes.

Two of its most illustrious sons are Mohd. Rizwan and Harikrishna Prasad, both having led the country. Their former State Bank of India (SBI) colleague and Andhra Pradesh (AP) team-mate Norman Swaroop Isaac is not far behind. For, his rising stature as an official on the global firmament has eclipsed a dozen year long career as a state player.

From a Fédération Internationale de Basketball Amateur (FIBA) referee in 2000, Norman was elevated to FIBA Commissioner five years later. After clearing stringent qualifying exams for each role, he was made a Technical Delegate (TD), the first from the country, in 2016.

Elected Joint Secretary of the Telangana Olympic Association (TOA) by the highest margin among all office-bearers, Norman Swaroop Isaac’s work speaks most eloquently for him. His rise has been steady from state player to coach to referee and now as FIBA Technical Delegate, the only one from India.

Last September, Isaac scaled the pinnacle any whistle-blower would die for. He was appointed Game Commissioner for the maiden FIBA World Cup final at Beijing. Coming on the back of 200 such international outings, to oversee the cream of international basketball was indeed a dream come true.

The World Cup, a quadrennial event on the lines of the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics, is the biggest spectacle in the game’s calendar and has replaced the biennial World Championships. 

“My most memorable moment was as AP coach when we won the 1996 Inter Zonal championship after topping the zone (south) thrice,” said Isaac, who also served as Competition Manager for the 2015 Lusofonia Games held in Goa. AP’s triumph was even more commendable as his cagers, much smaller in size, overshadowed their much taller opponents from the north through skill and speed.

One last peak remains to be conquered. “I long to officiate in the Tokyo Olympics,” said the Chairman, Technical Commission, Basketball Federation of India.