Shomira Bidaye is one of five Indian women selected to be part of the NBA Academy’s 2021 Women’s Virtual Program.
The five Indians are part of a group of 50 selected around the world after the NBA Academy analyzed more than 300 applications from more than 50 countries. The program aims to help these young hopefuls, all aged 14 to 17, develop their skills on and off the court, which could help them build a future with basketball.
“At first they thought I was lying to them [parents]”Bidaye said in an exclusive with Yash Matange for NBA.com India.” Then they were like ‘you got picked’ when I showed them the NBA Academy posted it. “
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Shomira and her parents might have been surprised, but given her rise in recent years, it seemed like she was still on the right track for it.
Getting the green light for Jr. NBA development programs
The teenager was not only part of the Indian roster for the Jr. NBA Global Champions in 2019, but she was also invited to attend the NBA Academy India Women’s Third Camp in Mumbai during Indian Games week.
And it all started with the Jr. NBA Trials in his hometown of Nagpur, in early 2019.
âFirst I did the trials, then it was like an inter-school tournament,â added Shomira. “They selected five to give the national trial.”
She was obviously one of those five people. She then teamed up with other girls from cities like Pune and Mumbai to form the West Zone team and competed in the national trials, of which 20 were selected for the international trials before the final squad could be preselected.
“It was like seeing all the players in the world, your age,” Shomira recounts of her experience with the Jr. NBA Global Championship. “The Americans are just superior, like their team is amazing. Then all the boys were soaking up and everything.”
âThere were a lot of NBA players out there and they also have a lot of skills off the field for us.â
At the Jr. NBA Global Championships in Florida, Shomira was among the best players in India and also competed in the 3-point shooting competition.
All of this recognition certainly played a role in his securing an invitation to the NBA Academy Camp in Mumbai later that year.
NBA Games Experience in India
The NBA Academy India Women’s Third Camp was held the same week as the NBA India Games, a memorable and life-changing experience for all Academy campers – girls and boys.
âThe NBA India Games were just amazing,â said Shomira. “The NBA players were like standing right in front of us and we were bouncing for them.”
“My job was to go give them towels during their downtime, so it was just amazing.”
It was Shomira’s first camp and she was playing alongside the best girls in the country, some of whom were already on their way to the United States, including Harsimran Kaur and Siya Deodhar.
“I have a lot to learn from them and then the foreign coaches taught us a different kind of basketball.”
Nagpur befriends Siya Deodhar
While Kaur won the camp’s MVP in October 2019, the other part of the duo – Siya – was more important to Shomira given the long relationship she previously shared with the playmaker.
âSiya has been my best friend since I was in kindergarten,â Shomra shares. “She lives right next to me. So we literally grew up together.”
Siya is one of the star alumni of NBA Academy India Women’s Camp and has been a winner in each of the three NBA Academy India Women’s Camps. She also attended BWB Asia Camp in 2019 in Tokyo and continued by being a guest at BWB Global Camp during All-Star Weekend 2020 in Chicago.
It was in Nagpur, on a basketball court near her, that her journey with sport began.
“When I was in first grade my mom just sent me there [to the court nearby] and I started playing basketball. “
Since then, Shomira has played the sport at the same club as Siya until the opportunity for the NBA Jr. Trials presented itself.
On course for the WNBA
When asked to share his favorite player, Shomira said that Maya Moore, who has shown greatness on and off the field.
âIn fact, I’m the WNBA more than the NBA,â Shomira shares.
The teenager, who plays center, hopes to use the platform, exposure and experience of the NBA Academy’s virtual program to fulfill her “ultimate dream” of playing in the WNBA.
Can she do it? If she does, she would be the very first Indian to do so, but there are a few ahead of her. Beware of the crop of promising young Indian girls who have graduated from the Academy and those who are already in the United States to study at colleges or preparatory schools.
The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of the NBA or its clubs.