Being the only girl child, it wasn’t easy for Sanjana N Kumar to pursue a career in sport, especially when certain members in the extended family wanted her to prioritise studies. But with parents by her side, the 16-year-old broke those shackles and is now among the brightest upcoming basketball talents in Karnataka.
“My family was against it. They wanted me to focus on studies as I am the lone girl child, but my parents stood their ground and encouraged me to go. They are the ones who sent me here (DYES Vidyanagar),” recalled Sanjana, a 11th grade student of Sree Venkateshwara PU College. Her father Nandakumar is a businessman and mother Manjula is a teacher.
Basketball coach Sathyanarayana K first spotted her at a DYES selection camp four years ago. Seeing her potential, he immediately urged her to join the facility.
Since then, Sanjana’s talent has grown manifold, earning her a spot in various State-level and National-level tournaments. She fondly remembers her first National competition. “I was so excited in the beginning but it was tough. All the players were tall and I was comparatively short,” said Sanjana, who plays as a forward.
In 2016, she bagged a gold medal in State-level U-17 Khelo India Games. Last year, she bagged a silver in 35th Youth National Championships. Earlier this year, she claimed top honours with DYES Vidyanagar at the 4th State-level Mathru Cup women’s basketball championship and at the State-level Mayor Cup.
She was also in the NBA camp for India women in January earlier this year. “It was a three-day camp. One of our coaches (Blair Hardiek, Global Technical Director, NBA Academy Women’s Program) missed her flight so she arrived a day late. It was cut short to two days. They also told us about NCAA,” said Sanjana.
Sathyanarayana holds her in high regard and predicts a bright future. “She is very talented. There is a move called the zero step. It’s an advanced skill and only she can execute it properly. She is one of my best students,” he said.
It is tough for the sportsperson to keep up with studies especially when you’re out playing a tournament, but with a little help from the school, balance can be found. “When I come back, I cover the portions. My lecturers help me a lot. I get the attendance. My dean and principal help me a lot. They give special classes if required,” she said.