We, Indians love sports, perhaps some sports more than others but the passion is for everyone to behold. We hold our athletes in high esteem and often we venerate them as gods. However, at times, individuals who actually mentor the future medal winners when they really need the help and support, don’t get the deserved recognition and respect. The beautiful mix of a passion for sports and a desire to give something back to society is aptly reflected in the story of Pradyut Voleti.
Pradyut, a clinical psychologist, has been an avid basketball fan throughout his life and he was even a part of the Bandra YMCA team in Mumbai. The 27-year-old Pradyut realised that basketball in India has languished even though it has a long history. He started Dribble Academy which helps kids in rural India to work constructively towards fulfilling their aspirations. For Pradyut, basketball is more than a just a game, its a way of life.
From five students in 2014 to 300 athletes, Pradyut’s dream has come a long way. He shares his passion, “You can stop me. But how’ll you stop hundreds of me?” #ChalBadhChal
Pradyut elaborates that it takes intense practice and hard work to finally stake a claim in the Indian national team and fight for the elusive gold medal at the international stage. It is to be noted that five of his students are already playing at the Junior NBA.
To Pradyut’s credit, he feels himself to be responsible for the overall development of his mentees. His role has been more than a mere basketball coach but of a skill development trainer. He tries to make the kids realise their strengths and weaknesses so that this training can perhaps serve as a base for the students to reach their full potential. The journey has not been easy. The funds for his academy which are needed for building courts, jerseys and shoes come mostly from friends, family and strangers from social media.
He was working as a clinical psychologist in 2013 when he started teaching kids in his colony. Soon, the number of kids coming for training increased to 30. Pradyut left his job and went to the USA to train under Ganon Baker, who has worked with NBA players. After his return, he founded the Dribble Academy which has even adopted two villages, Gejha and Hoshiarpur in Noida, to give the kids a chance to touch their dreams.
He instructs the students about proper nutrition, holds English lessons for them and even shows them videos on current societal issues so they develop as well-rounded individuals. As for his students, they just adore their ‘Pradyut bhaiya’. This is just the beginning of Pradyut’s dream, a dream to revolutionise basketball in India.
“There are many people doing their best to grow in their own domain or field, be it a college student, a job beginner, a sport enthusiast, an artist or an engineer, they all fight with everyday challenges to make themselves better and better. They don’t bother what people think of them, how the world is going to react, they just believe in themselves and they just do it ethically very sportingly. This is where this campaign comes up and says ‘Chal Badh Chal.’ – Barun Prabhakar, Marketing Head, Liberty Shoes
The Logical Indian appreciates the efforts of Pradyut Voleti and Leap 7X by Liberty for bringing this story to notice. After all, a team, a society, a nation can only be great when we walk together, hand in hand. #ChalBadhChal