A basketball camp run by a former Indian basketball player, Shiba Maggon, who gives her equal dose of encouragement, strategy and tough love to players from all backgrounds.

Shiba overseeing drill

Shiba overseeing drill

A graying stone angel overlooks the twin basketball courts at St Michael’s School, New Delhi. Two lines of children stand facing each other on one of these courts. Red and blue cones dot the cement surface just ahead of them. A man with a camera hoisted on his shoulders circles the children, alternating between zooming in on the stationary cones, the swirling feet, and the bouncing balls.

At the centre of all this action, a lady stands with her hands clutching the back of her head. Her feet are crossed. Black capri pants stress the slim legs that taper into the heavy shoes typical of a basketball player. An elegantly tattooed ‘S’ snakes out from above her socks, with little black petals sprouting out from both sides of the letter. Her blue-green tee shirt has the word ‘INDIA’ emblazoned in bold, white letters on the front and back. Her hair is tied into a businesslike bun. Her casual stance is contradicted by the sounds from her lips— a staccato of stern instructions. The contradiction is made starker by the nature of her voice: a sweet, sugary melody.


This is week three of the month long camp being conducted by Shiba Maggon, an accomplished former Indian woman player. Shiba has captained the Senior National team, and upon retirement, coached the junior and youth Indian girls’ squads from 2010 to 2012. She is also among the first Indian women to qualify as a FIBA certified international referee. In other words, her tutelage is much sought after.

Six out of the 14 players at this camp have travelled hundreds of miles to attend, despite their underprivileged backgrounds. “We are from the Bodisha Club, Kolkata”, says Sanyasi Halder, 12, in halting Hindi. His friend Saurav Singhu elaborates without a trace of emotion, “Theirs is an anaath(orphan) hostel run by a Father.”

Breaking the chain

Picture 2 Saurav (left) and Sanyasi resize

Saurav (left) and Sanyasi

Most of these sessions are dedicated to eliminating the bad habits that have developed in the absence of proper supervision. “We are being re-taught the correct basics: from passing skills, to shooting from the top of the head with the right follow through, while ensuring that the index finger is last to leave the ball,” Saurav explains confidently. Players are taught the proper mechanics to jump, turn and land— crucial to avoid career threatening injuries at a later age. “I became a coach because I had injuries. If I had got better facilities, I could have turned out to be a different player,” says Shiba.

Every session is recorded by a cameraman paid out of Shiba’s own pocket. “I’m not spending, I’m investing. When a player watches himself on video, it acts as motivation to get better. Once I make these DVDs, I’ll be giving all of them a set.” In return, she demands perfection. “Nahi karna to mat karoagar karna hain to sahi karo.” (If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it, but if you do, then do it right.)

Everything adds up to something

Shiba leading by example, showing the kids the correct shooting technique

Shiba leading by example, showing the kids the correct shooting technique

“Violation mat kar!” Shiba screams, catching en errant player at the far side of the court. It’s a kind voice that can turn sharp at any moment— as if a reflection of the sport itself, with its sudden and unpredictable turns. The sheer depth of her observations and the way she tracks multiple players simultaneously is remarkable. “Jab coach naya seekhata hain to peeche ka kyon bhool jaate ho?” (When the coach teaches you something new, why do you forget previous lessons?) Shiba is animated. She leads by example, knocking down shot after shot from the right wing to demonstrate the importance of a follow through. “Aaj raat jaake sochna (when you go back tonight, think): The footwork that I was doing in training, can I take it to a full game situation against a defense?”

A brighter tomorrow

The practice for the day has ended. A kid slings his bag over his shoulder and mimics the layup steps on his way home. A few girls continue beyond the day’s quota, rehearsing their footwork as if it were a dance routine. “Hum kal bhi yahaan pe hain!” (We are here tomorrow as well!) Shiba reminds them with a smile. A final lesson perhaps, on the importance of consistency— not tiring yourself out in one day, but rather taking baby steps forward each day. The kids have started seeing value in their drills, and are not merely complying orders. They are turning into ambassadors of the game, unknown even to themselves. Tomorrow, others will learn from them and the cycle will continue.

Shiba and the kids after a hard day's practice

Shiba and the kids after a hard day’s practice

This feature was originally published in The Alternative Magazine. Here’s the link to the original post: http://thealternative.in/inclusivity/spocial-revolution-a-day-at-shiba-maggons-basketball-camp/

Gopalakrishnan R
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