The Visual & Cultural Transformation Of An Iconic Matunga Basketball Court - Homegrown

The Visual & Cultural Transformation Of An Iconic Matunga Basketball Court

This year has brought many positive moments in the revamping of public spaces in the country, from murals paying homage to sex workers in Kolkata to depicting fierce Naga warriors in Kohima. They don’t just serve an aesthetic purpose as seen in the case of a village in Haryana where art was used to increase tourism and generate employment they prove more than ever the power of creative influences over community spaces in bringing about productive change. A similar process took place with the first basketball court in Mumbai.

The previously desolate basketball court in Matunga has been revamped with beautiful artwork into a unique, engaging community space, encouraging sports and bringing the community together for a productive cause. It started when Air Canada under its ‘Fly The Flag’ initiative wished to take part in meaningful initiatives that helped promote equality and inclusivity. Along with global travel brand Beautiful Destination, they wished to use travel, art and culture as a way of empowering the community. They got on board with Capsul, a culture consultancy and India’s first streetwear webstore, and the project took shape from there. They envisioned to do this by making the country’s first hype court.

Bhavisha Dave, co- founder of Capsul tells us “A hype court is basically any sporting court - basketball, tennis, football etc where sport connects with art to create a beautiful iconic spot that galvanises any community it is part of.” Hype courts are a concept becoming popular all over the world, bringing different mediums together, and become a meeting point for various creative avenues. A combination of art and sport, hype-courts represent a mix of lifestyle and street style representing urban culture. Such a monumental project is no one-man task, and took the collaborative efforts of various companies, coming together to uplift a community space.

Matunga Hype Court Project
Matunga Hype Court Project

The refurbishment of the court was undertaken by Zlait Sports Management. Nikhil Sharma, CEO-Founder of Zlait tells us, “A huge challenge also existed because of finite time and hence, strategically required us to manoeuvre various operational aspects like the paints to be used on the top surface.” Nevertheless, they delivered amazing results in making the space usable for ballers and the local community.

Post the refurbishment, the team then chose St+Art India to implement their artistic vision, as they are highly acclaimed when it comes to bringing to life community spaces across the country. Guilia Ambrogi, the co-founder and curator of St+Art tells us that they needed an artist who knew the vibe of the city, as well as someone who was sensitive to youth culture and understood values such as community integration. Celebrated artist Sajjid Wajjid was chosen for his wide-ranging repertoire, and experience of trying his hand at various styles using different mediums. He and his team, in the span of two weeks completely revamped the space, making it brighter and more engaging for the community.

“It’s always fascinating to see how places evolve, and how people react and respond to them. I feel like people who don’t do this work can’t really imagine how drastically spaces can change in a short amount of time. Seeing the work in progress was a spectacle in itself. It really brings out a wave of inspiration and positive emotion,” Ambrogi tells us.

The artwork on the court is of a moose and elephant, the two symbolic of Canada and India respectively, signifying unity and cultural integration. Mr. Nirmal tells us that it’s one of a kind, and is very pleased with the outcome of the artwork.

The unveiling of the court was a celebrated moment, basketball icons like the Singh Sisters were in attendance, along with Pradyut Voletti, founder of Dribble Academy, a group that empowers underprivileged children through basketball. Fashion brand Nor Black Nor White also designed jerseys and playing kits for children.

The Singh sisters along with Voletti held training sessions for the children in attendance. Volleti shares with us his thoughts of the impact of the court, “If you look at courts around India, they are in a dilapidated state, where at a point of time lots of kids used to play but it went away due to lack of awareness. Such a project is a great platform, especially because it involves a club with historical roots in basketball. With more children starting to play, it could revive great talent from this place.”

Feature image courtesy of St+rt India.

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A Homegrown Guide To Some Of Mumbai’s Most Iconic Street Art

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