Though India has been one of the most successful basketball teams in South Asia, the game has never quite managed to grab the attention of people. Definitely there are loyal followers of the game but it never seems to enjoy the popularity cricket or badminton enjoys in the country. Trying to change this in his own ways is a man called Pradyut Voleti.
Pradyut’s love for the game started after watching the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers live at the 2001 NBA finals while on a family trip to the United States of America. After returning to India, he started playing the game seriously and has played in school, college and national level. But, it is not his game Pradyut is known for, he is rather known for his works off the basketball court. He is the founder of Dribble Academy, a non-profit organisation (NPO) which provides basketball training and basic education to underprivileged kids.
Pradyut got into basketball coaching in 2013 by teaching the game to kids in his colony and nearby societies. He soon realised this was his passion and decided to quit his job and went to USA to train under Ganon Baker, a renowned NBA and NCAA skills trainer. It was on his return to India that he setup Dribble Academy at a village called Gejha in the city of Noida.
Pradyut started teaching at a dirt ground in the village with just two bamboo sticks and a ring. His initial days were met with a lot of resistance from the parents of the kids who felt it to be just a waste of time. Regardless, Pradyut started his journey with just five kids. The numbers soon went up and today Dribble Academy has around 400 kids with almost equal gender representation. The academy focuses not only on basketball but on the all-round development of these kids.
A lot of kids from Dribble Academy have been awarded with scholarships because of their performance in basketball. One of Pradyut’s earliest female wards received a full five year scholarship with a private school in Noida. Some of the kids from Dribble Academy have played in the Junior NBA level and some even have had the opportunity to go for the Junior NBA World Championships.
Every year Dribble Academy receives international volunteers from various countries who try to help them in any capacity possible. There has also been a lot of local support for Pradyut from various quarters who have joined him in his work.
Pradyut himself has improved his coaching skills and was mentored by Cody Toppert. He has also worked with Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer. He is also widely regarded as the best basketball skills trainer in India.
Since the past seven years, Pradyut Voleti has been the dribbling his way to success beyond the basketball court and is paving the way for his kids to make India a force to reckon with in the basketball world.