I am Pradyut Voleti, a professional basketball trainer, and this is the story of my journey till today. With your help, I will be able to continue on this path and make a difference in the lives of 150 children with the game of basketball.
A Village Called Gejha
Gheja is a tiny village near Noida in North India. I lived in the affluent and influential area of Noida which is surrounded by slums. On one side we had kids here with access to everything from Outdoor & Indoor Sports facilities to great schools and lifestyle and on the other side we had kids in the slums who had no access to clean water, food & clothes. Sports and Education was a distant dream for them. Most of these kids come from families where their parents are either daily wage laborers or domestic help.
Many of these kids are subjected to child labor. Alcoholism and domestic violence are common in these homes. They live in crowded homes with a multitude of problems. A family of 8 live in a cramped 250 square feet room. Without guidance and direction, most of these children end up gravitating towards a life of petty crime, substance abuse and child labor.
While I was studying for my Master’s in Clinical Psychology, I learnt about the potential risks faced by teenagers in rural communities; risks owing to challenges of growing up in poverty and a lack of channels for positive development.
The Solution - Basketball
My love for Basketball began in school, at Mayo College, Rajasthan. I made a decision to make Basketball my career and also use the sport as a force for good.
Basketball instilled values in me that a classroom could not. It instilled discipline, gave me direction, a purpose, made me work hard, work as a team and gave me a sense of belonging. I thought of Basketball as the foundation to bring these very same qualities to these children.
Sports almost always bridges gaps between religions and economic statuses.
Dribble Academy was born in 2013 with 5 kids, 2 bamboo sticks and a ring used as a hoop.
I started Dribble Academy with a 3 point focus
1. Provide free Basketball training to children to help their developement
2. Encourage the parents to allow their children to play instead of sending them to work
3. Imparting life-skills training to the children
Dribble Academy started as an endeavor to channelize the energy of these children and teach them, valuable life-skills through Basketball. We focus on teamwork and discipline, and an effort towards imparting not only Basketball skills but also dance, music and English language classes. This would give an all-round development for the children and bring about positive change in the community.
Since 2013, we have welcomed more and more children. We now have over 150 children in Dribble Academy. These kids show tremendous zeal and Dribble Academy has got attention from some of India's best Basketball coaches and players, who have selflessly committed themselves to this cause..
For the first few months, we just had a single girl coming out to the academy for practice. Due to a conservative culture in the Gejha Village, parents discouraged their daughters from going out and playing. However, over time, we gained their trust and now we have over 50 girls as part of the program. This ranks as possibly our biggest success so far. Having encouraged these girls to play Basketball and having some of them now playing the sport confidently at a high level.
Shaily Upadhya has received a 5 year 100 % fully-funded scholarship at one of the leading schools in Delhi NCR. The Shiv Nadar School accepted Shaily as a student. For a family with 3 children and a single bread-earner, this was a massive achievement and mark of pride.
2 more children from our project were selected for the Under-14 District Basketball tournament for Boys’ (held in the city of Agra)
Why I Need Your Help
This project is my dream. I want to empower these kids in different aspects and my dream is to run many such programs across the region and impact more lives.
I have spent all my savings on running Dribble Academy. From paying the coaches’ salaries, to sending some of the kids to school, to getting them proper athletic shoes and I have loved every single minute of it.
We have already built a full-sized Basketball court in the village, but we require funds for running the entire program.
I am turning to you to help me run Dribble Academy. These growing children, aged between 4 and 15, need your support for their basic necessities. Milk, Eggs, Shoes, T-Shirts and other basic needs will ensure these children shine and thrive in the world with your help.
You Could Also Help By Sharing Our Story On Your Social Networks
Thank you for your help and generosity.