by Mervin LR
After finishing fourth at BOSM last season, the girls Basketball team is optimistic about the upcoming season. Having not lost their top senior players the team sees themselves besting last season’s performance.
Senior players Pragati Singh, Sakshi Dikshit and Riya Rambadharan help lead the BITS Pilani, Pilani Women’s Basketball Team, alongside their new coach Shobhit Lamba. This year’s team is a little more experienced than in past years, so these seniors are excited to help the team reach their goals of a bettering last year performance.
From being rejected in her school team, to playing the Captain role
The team Captain Pragati Singh has fallen in love with this game since she was young and has never got tired of testing herself at new heights.
“I started playing basketball when I was in 9th standard. I used to see my seniors play basketball during my school days, the bonding and share really driven me to be part of a sports team. I gave trials to my school team three times. I got rejected two times,” said Pragati.
When asked who’s her inspiration the 20-year-old said, “for me it was most of my coaches. They are the one who inspires me and pushes me to the limit. My personal coach Mr.Vinod Gupta has taught me everything related to basketball. All the knowledge that I have related to basketball is I fully owe to him only.”
On field, she looks up to Kevin Durant and Golden State Warriors is the team she admires enormously.
Despite being a post player, which is not her well-defined position, Pragati, who played two national level tournaments representing Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, firmly believes that it is the dedication to the sport that helps her maintain her usual sang-froid through all the practice sessions.
“I am a very dedicated player. I never want to miss a practice session and even I see people who stop practicing once the tournament gets over. That’s not just me. I practice all throughout the year,” she added.
Keeping the winning spirit
Pragati further emphasised the importance of appointing a permanent coach rather than a having one on contractual basis and also reiterated the great work of the sports council, “As you know that this is a technical college, I still fell the sports culture is big less here considering the fact that we don’t’ have a permanent coach here.”
“The sports council never has a budget to have permanent coaches or maybe they don’t have enough reasons to give permanent coaches. And I think, this sports council really doing their best for us, but they can do better actually just by providing us a permanent coach rather than we just have coach for like 20 days during the times of BOSM’19. Apart from that the sports council is really doing great,” said the 20-year-old.
BITS Pilani Women’s Basketball team pulled off some great results in 2018 including their stunning late win over IGIPESS in the quarterfinals.
“We were actually winning initially until the second quarters and then suddenly we started losing in the third quarters and then 5 seconds left in the fourth quarter before the match gets over. We were one point down and we just motivated ourselves – “we can still do it, we can still win in it” – then what happened was one of team player just field the ball and shoot and we were one point up and won the match by one point. That was an unexpected win which I would say as one of our best match.”
When asked as a captain, how do you keep your team motivated after losing? She said: “I have always motivated my team to give their best in a match and once they actually given their best and we still lose. I always keep the spirit by saying “may be the other team deserved it more than we deserved it or maybe they practiced a bit more. Maybe it’s our chance some other time.”
The ‘Versatile’ team – ready for a tough fight
Riya Ramabadhran, the team’s point guard and shooting guard had this to say about the team’s preparation for the BOSM’19.
“We’re looking forward to playing some good matches with the excellent team that come for BOSM’19. All the DU teams that train hard all year long, if we’re able to give them a tough fight, I think we would have done justice to our team, the sport and our coach,” she said.
On being asked to describe the team, “Versatile,” said Riya.
“Everyone has different skills that they bring to the team.”
Riya, who has represented the state at nationals said the consistency and team chemistry should prove to be a fortunate advantage for the team in the BOSM’19.
“Of the playing five, four of us have played two BOSM’s before, so we have developed a sense of understanding among ourselves. It’s exhilarating to play with my team and learn something from each member every step of the way.”
When asked who will be the toughest team to face at the BOSM’19, she said, “In my opinion one of the hardest teams to beat would be SRCC. They have time and again proven to rose up the charts in this game.”
The practice has gone well for the team, and Coach Shobhit Lamba is excited to see the hard work pay off.
“We’ve worked so, so hard at conditioning and are really working at the tactical side of things,” Shobhit said.
“We have a really balanced squad from a few perspectives. There are few tremendous seniors on the team who are all providing excellent leadership. We then have a crew of juniors who are all eager to play and contribute to the team. The rest of our team are rounded out with really talented girls. All in all, I couldn’t be happier with our team,” he added.
Sakshi: Dualling & dabbling her way up
The team is athletic and quick and its personality is a strength, according to Sakshi Dikshit.
“We can take a lot of experience from last year and build on it going into this year,” Sakshi said.
Sakshi, a fan of LeBron James, began to play the sport at the age of 12 and quickly found out she had a talent for it.
“I have always had passion to play the game of basketball,” commented Sakshi.
“I joined the school team. Carmel Convent School, New Delhi, in my 9th grade. When I came onto campus, people told me the college team is pretty good and I should join it.”
Sakshi, who’s currently doing dual degree believes she has coped well with competing in both the studies and sports. She said: ” Currently doing masters in Physics and B.E.Electrical and Electronics Engineering. Juggling with sports and studies is quite difficult, we have morning and practices every single day. It becomes quite hard to maintain a balance but when you see your juniors doing it and seniors putting in that effort. It really becomes manageable.”
‘Less importance to women players’
The 21-year-old feels that at the college level girls’ sports are given less importance and it’s a big task compare girls with boys as there are definitely something that men are given not women.
“Especially If you look at the perspective of Engineering institute, where the ratio of girls to boys is so low. The number of girls coming on to campus is very less, we usually run short of members.”
“We don’t have those many options as compare to the boys. Female sports are given less importance in sports, but this culture of cricket being more important is really doesn’t exist in our college as of now. In BOSM basketball is the biggest sport and It attracts most number of people as well,” she added.
The women’s basketball team has a pre-game ritual of their own that gets them prepared for game time, “we have this very beautiful temple in our campus – Saraswati Temple, where we generally go before the tournament starts by skipping our morning practices. We mediate and pray so the tournament goes well. And before the match, it’s generally about the captain’s pep talk, we all try to make a winning strategy.”
Sakshi is not allowing any expectation to affect her game and remains solely focused on herself. She has had the honour of being captain last year and has been vital member of the team.
“Last year, I was captain during BOSM’18 which was pretty stressful for me because there was lot of things to go being a captain. The current captain is working really hard, the coach we have is much better than the coach we had last year. Our team has a lot of very talented players but what sets us apart is the bond we have on and off the field” said Sakshi.
The senior pivot further said that the whole team has the same goals and wants to best last year’s performance as best as they can.
The team of determined girls have definitely shown what they are capable of, and they aren’t afraid of any obstacles that come their way. They believe that their best play is still ahead of them, and they are eager to go.
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