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Ruling basket sole aim of cager sisters

Written by: Staff
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Lucknow, Apr 10 (UNI) The basketball court may not be the favourite hunting ground for Indian sportspersons, but for this family of five cager sisters in Shivpur (Varanasi), scoring the basket has been a proud profession.

It was Priyanka, (26), who first stepped onto the basketball court over 15 years ago. She was to be followed on the same court of the Rani Murar Inter College, by her own sisters, Divya, Prashanti, Akanksha and Pratima.

While Priyanka, a certified NIS coach, alongwith cager husband Manish, now coaches the International School team in Thailand, Divya (23) went on to captain the national team which recently participated in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

Among the other sisters Prashanti (21) too featured in the side led by Divya, while Akanksha (19) has attended the national team camps in 2004 and 2005 and is presently a member of the junior Indian team, besides being a student of St Stephens College in the national capital and the skipper of Delhi Junior Team.

The youngest of all five sisters, Pratima (16) is working hard to make her way into the junior national team.

Talking to UNI from Varanasi, Divya, a senior clerk with MTNL in New Delhi said contrary to other girls who played cooking games at home, ''we preferred tailing Priyanka Didi's footsteps on to the basketball court.'' It was a great moment to be a part of the national contingent to the Commonwealth Games including the likes of Olympic medalist Rajyavardhan Ssingh Rathore and World Championship podium finisher Anju Bobby George, said Divya, who claims to have found a new but brawny friend in discus thrower and Melbourne silver medalist Seema Antil.

''Basketball made its debut at Melbourne Commonwealth Games and it is a great honour to represent the country at the big event.

''Though we finished sixth out of the eight teams in contention this time, but will give our best to grab a medal at the next Games in New Delhi in 2010,'' she said.

Interestingly, the captain of men's team at the Melbourne Games was another Varanasi player Tridip Rai.

But what do the parents of incredible cager quintet say about their daughters playing in a game which still remains at the bottom of sports ladder in the country? '' We never differentiated among the five daughters and only son Vikrant. May be God had destined them to make their names on the basketball court only,'' said Gauri Shankar Singh and Urmilla Singh, dreaming that one of their cager daughters would go on to represent the country at the Olympics.

Interestingly, being daughters of Gauri Shankar Singh -- a bank manager -- has often led hockey playing fraternity and supporters to their house, as their father's namesake, who lives nearby, is the head of a family that has given three centre half players to Indian hockey including Olympians Rahul Singh and Vivek Singh, who died early last year battling cancer.

And is there anything else besides the dangling basket that the five cager sisters cherish. Excellence in singing and dancing was the reply from Divya and Prashanti, also an MTNL employee.

''All five of us have mastered the art of dancing and singing also,'' informed Divya, who claims to have won a beauty contest organised on the sidelines of an invitational basketball tourney in Bangkok last year.

Another identical feature that the sisters boast off, is that they are ready to do anything for their darling brother Vikrant (12), who unlike his sisters wants to become like Sachin Tendulkar one day.

UNI ARS PM BS1249

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