The 12 year – old girl effortlessly dribbles the basketball between her legs, around her body, spinning with the grace of a dancer, teasing her friends, not giving them a chance. What she doesn’t know is that a coach is watching her, and soon she will be enrolled in the Dribble Academy’s Gheja village project for underprivileged kids. And that one day while playing a match at the Shiv Nadar School (SNS), she will so impress the coaches there, that they will offer her a 100% scholarship and bring her into the school as their first scholarship student.
The daughter of a driver, Shaily joined SNS in Class 8 but her academic level was that of a Class 3 child. She had to work hard to get her level up and balance her studies and her basketball. She managed this difficult task only because as a person, she gives her all to everything she does and because her school supported her wholly. When she joined SNS, she was already playing for the Under – 14 District team; and then, encouraged by the school, she got selected to represent UP state. But in SNS, she has grown both academically and in her game. Being away from school for 2 months at a time, Shaily would not have managed if it weren’t for the remedial classes she had, the teachers who came in early to teach her, and the support she got from everyone around her. She has brought accolades to the school too, including Most Valuable Player at a prestigious all-India inter-school tournament in Woodstock, Mussoorie.
Shaily’s day starts at 5am, and then alternates between basketball and studies till the evening. For her Class 10 board exams, a separate study schedule was created for her, and she moved into the home of one of her teachers and stayed with his family so she could focus on her studies more. Even when she was travelling for her games, the school would organise classes for her wherever she went.
Painfully shy but with a highly intelligent gleam in her eyes, Shaily says, ‘The most important moment in my life was when I joined this school. Because I could keep playing basketball and excel at it, and they supported me so much. Especially the teachers – not just the sports teachers – everyone.’ Of course, it is her brilliance at the sport that will take her places, but by working hard for her Class 10 exams and doing well in academics, Shaily is ensuring that she has a future beyond playing basketball. Shaily’s inspiration is Raspreet Sidhu, who represents India in basketball and is the head of sports for Shiv Nadar Schools. Shaily practices with Raspreet every morning.
Says Kunwar Brahmaditya Singh, her coach, ‘Shaily always gives her best. The NBA has an academy in greater Noida, and the coaches at the WNBA programme have liked her. She will probably attend one of the WNBA camps. Six players in India have already got into US colleges through that programme. We are looking at Shaily to follow in their footsteps.’
To read more about Shiv Nadar Foundation, please click here
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