Shikshita fast fulfilling her potential

Shikshita fast fulfilling her potential

Shikshita Jha. DH Photo/ S K Dinesh

Far too many young players fail to display their potential due to lack of proper training facilities. Fortunately, Shikshita Jha is not among those. She not only adores basketball but has also found a coach under whom her game continues to grow.

A student of Kendriya Vidyalaya-AFS, Yelahanka, Shikshita's tryst with the sport began here in 2016 after her father Anant Kumar Jha's transfer from Guwahati in 2014. With open courts available to play at the Air Force station, she instantly developed an interest and soon became good enough to represent the school team.

Although the 13-year-old achieved success at the school level, she had no experience beyond that. In January this year, Bharath Sports Union head coach Sachin Belavadi visited the Air Force Station in Yelahanka to train the upcoming players. He spotted Shikshita and took her under his wings. Thereafter things took a turn for the better.

"She was one of the talented players I saw who had no exposure," Belavadi said. "They had all the facilities inside the campus but absolutely no exposure outside the compound. They played only inter-school matches but had the potential and zeal. That's how I met her and we set a target and went on to achieve it," he added.

After just nine months of training, Shikshita was able to feature in the Bharath Sports Union team that won the State sub-junior championship. The forward was the top-performer for the side. In the tournament's first match, she got 16 points, and in the final, she again shone with 13 to power her team to a 36-31 win over Jayanagar Sports Club.

"I met him a few months ago and he has taught me a lot," said Shikshita, flanked by her mother Sudha Jha. "He is like my second parent."

Her performance drew attention and on November 7 the big moment arrived. She was named in the Karnataka girls' team for the Sub-junior Under-14 National basketball championship in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh.

Karnataka finished fourth in the competition that ended on November 18. They lost to eventual champions Maharashtra in the semifinals. But the experience of playing in the Nationals gave Shikshita something to think about. "It was exciting. I had never seen such good (basketball) players. I realised that I had to work harder to match their standards," she remarked.

Umashankar BC, coach of the State team, too was impressed with her performance. "This is the first tournament and from the first match till now, she has improved a lot. Under the watchful eyes of Sachin, she can go on to represent the Indian team in the future," he said.