Shaily with Voleti at the Dribble Academy

Shaily Sharma with her Coach Pradyut Voleti at the Dribble Academy

Shaily Sharma, a 12 year old, the daughter of Kumar Sharma and Sanju Sharma has been offered a full scholarship to attend Shiv Nadar School and to be a part of their basketball team. The family reside in Gheja Village, NOIDA. Pradyut Voleti and Dribble Academy have been instrumental in this stage of her life, equipping her with the skills to achieve this, even though the passion was always there. For her father, who is a driver, and her mother, who is a housewife, this is all that they could ask for.

Mr. Sharma and his wife were visibly elated at the opportunity that has been afforded to their daughter. Her father used to drop her and pick her up from training and they knew that she was committed to the game since she used to play all the time. Dribble Academy was affiliated with her school and this tipped the scales in her favor. Shaily and the Dribble Academy team also travelled to Delhi and NOIDA to participate in tournaments and the 3 trophies that she has earned from these trips are his pride.

Shaily and the Academy

Shaily was always different, from the very beginning, Voleti says. He also points out how her character would really show at practice, where she would outwork everyone and still try to help others get better. This is one reason why he considers her to have the skills to really lead from the front and not just be a player. In her first game, which was against Amity, Noida, she scored 16 points and dished out 5 assists. Contributing not only to her individual score-line, but that of the team.

In a friendly game against Shiv Nadar in 2016, Shaily played outstanding, according to Voleti. Their coaches immediately expressed an interest in the Dribble Academy star. Eventually, she was offered a full scholarship to attend Shiv Nadar and play for their team. Apart from getting an education, Voleti says that he is also pleased about the fact that she will get to train with young and upcoming coach Brahmaditya Singh and Indian captain, Raspreet Sidhu. This will allow her to grow on the court as well as off it.

Shaily’s future is not only hers, but also that that of every other child in India who can use the game of basketball as something a lot more than a game. It can afford opportunities to children who could not otherwise afford an education at a good school. At the same time, Shaily’s story is also just about a kid’s love for the game, putting in the hours and grinding it out, just to get better at the game that she loves.

About Dribble Academy

Dribble Academy

Dribble Academy was started by Pradyut Voleti, who was trained at Elev8 Academy in Florida by Ganon Baker Basketball (whose incredible YouTube channel is a valuable resource in itself). He was also trained personally by Cody Toppert of Cornell Basketball (who is a legend in Ivy League Basketball). According to their Facebook page, Dribble Academy conducts programs at ATS Village, Sector 93 A NOIDA and Grand Omaxe, Sector 93 A, NOIDA, and concentrates on developing player’s core skills and bringing critical life skills on the basketball court, thus making the whole experience of training holistic in nature.

About the Gheja Village Project

The Gheja Village Project

The Gheja Village Project, NOIDA is a free training program that the Dribble Academy and Voleti offer under- privileged children. It is conducted at the National Public School in Gheja Village. The program focuses on developing both basketball and life skills. According to Voleti, it took a while for him and his academy to build up to the level that they operate at now. The Gheja Village Project boasts of a class strength of 200 from the 5 that they started with. He also says that it is important to understand that since most of them will never play basketball at a high level, the training is focused on trying to get children to understand the importance of hard work and education itself.

Anirudh Rangarajan
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