As a young child, our Founder, Pradyut Voleti had irrevocably fallen for the game of basketball. An alumnus of Mayo College, Sardar Patel Vidyalaya and Amity University, Voleti learnt aspects of life through basketball. “When things got frustrating, when nothing was going right, I used to go play basketball to make it alright. I needed it,” Voleti says. “Basketball has taught me who I am, it’s more than just a game. It’s become a mode of communication for me, a common language to reach out to the kids around the world.”
While he loved basketball growing up, he felt something was amiss. His understanding of the game seemed at odds with what Indian players and coaches thought and taught. Having always paid extra attention to the basics, Voleti’s notion of basketball stemmed from a position similar to that of James Naismith, the game’s founding father, that basketball had to have a positive impact on young impressionable lives.
In this search for putting the right practice in place, Voleti, at age 22, decided to move out of India to learn from the very best. He trained under the acclaimed Ganon Baker in Florida, as part of the Shadow Coaching Programme at Elev8 Sports Institute. He was also personally tutored by Cody Toppert, a Cornell legend, who has played nine years in Europe and in the NBA D-League.
Voleti returned to India in 2014 and was eager to put his learning into practice and founded the ‘Dribble Academy’. He began by putting up a couple of bamboo sticks and a hoop for the underprivileged kids in his Noida neighborhood. This eventually led to the creation of the Gheja Village Project in the backyard of a low-income school in Noida Sector 93A with the intention of keeping the kids in the village away from domestic abuse, crime, child labor and drugs and give them a platform channelize their energy into learning life skills instead.
What started off as a single hoop planted in that small assembly ground, is today a dance floor for 400+ underprivileged kids who dream big. Focusing on fundamental basketball and life skills training along with educational and nutritional support, Voleti has transformed the lives of some of these kids by ensuring scholarships for them in elite institutions.