Stats

Shiba Maggon: Living Her Sister’s Dream

Shiba Maggon: Living Her Sister’s Dream Local Heroes

Born into a huge joint family in Karnal, Haryana, Shiba Maggon didn’t have many friends. She spent most of her childhood with her cousins in a big house playing hide-and-seek and Taboo.

A stubborn girl, Shiba Maggon used to complain how she never understood why she was being dragged down to the basketball court by her elder sister Shelly. Yes, Shelly, the athletic 6-ft 1-in gifted and ambitious athlete, who was a member of the Indian korfball and netball teams. The same Shelly who was also trying out for the national basketball side, and had already been selected to the junior India camp on her very first attempt.

It was at Shelly’s and their father’s collective adamance that, in 1991, Shiba Maggon was coerced into joining the Sports Authority of India (SAI) hostel in Chandigarh to learn basketball the ‘right way’.

And it was within days of joining SAI that Shiba received word of Shelly’s tragic passing in a car accident. The Maggon family was devastated. But through Shiba’s anguish, she also found clarity.

“I wanted my parents to smile again.” And she would aim to achieve that through basketball.

Going to work

At the SAI hostel, Shiba Maggon honed her skills night in and night out, for more than 10 hours a day. Within six months of Shelly’s loss, it was Shiba who was now part of the national camp.

After graduating from SAI with a degree in arts, Shiba joined the Western Railways in 1996 as a senior clerk, and finally in 1997, six years since getting her first call up, she got to play for India at the FIBA Asia Championship held in Bangkok, Thailand.

Thereafter, Shiba Maggon represented the nation for 12 straight years, leading the side in multiple Asian Championships, the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, invitational tournaments in New Zealand and Malaysia, and even a year of college hoops in the US.

Shiba MaggonShiba as skipper of the Indian team at the Asian C’ship in Japan. Image courtesy- Shiba Maggon.

 

Finding her Master Yoda

For all her accomplishments, interestingly, Shiba Maggon recalls her training with ex-St. Stephen’s College, Delhi’s star player Maan Singh in 2001, as a game changer.

“He was an NBA maniac. He taught me a lot of ball handling, dribbling and shooting moves that he learnt from watching the NBA. I remember when I copied these moves on court people used to tell me: ‘That’s a Michael Jordan fadeaway’ or ‘Hey, that’s an [Allen] Iverson crossover’.”

During her three month-long session with Singh in Ajmer, Rajasthan, Shiba Maggon pushed herself to another level. “I never compared my training regime with the girls, but rather with the boys. I always wanted to do what a boy could do on the court.”

Shiba became unstoppable, getting named among the top three players at the Senior Asian Basketball Championship in 2001. On the domestic circuit, she transferred from Western Railway to MTNL Delhi and in 2002, led the Delhi state team to a monumental win over the combined Indian Railways team at the Senior National Championship.

Giving Back

Shiba MaggonMaggon training the St Stephen’s College women’s team.

 

After dominating Indian basketball for almost 20 years, she finally decided to hang up her boots in 2010.

On a quiet afternoon, just after her retirement was announced, she was offered a coaching position with the Indian women’s teams. She chose the junior side, but found that certain bad habits had already been ingrained in the players. The experience made her realize the need to start younger, through the launch of her own academy.

“I’m hoping to start an academy for girls in the 13-14 age bracket, so that I can build in basic concepts early. When I say that, I mean that when they play for India, they won’t have to be told what to do. They will know their job and won’t be scared of anything.”

Walking the talk, Shiba regularly houses talented kids from poorer backgrounds at her home in Delhi, training them free of cost. Some of them have gone on to secure futures for themselves, with scholarships at leading private schools or by landing stable government jobs.

Interestingly, for all her playing and coaching achievements, Shiba also managed to record her name in history books as India’s first female FIBA certified international referee, alongside Maharashtra’s Snehal Bendke.

“I just want to be remembered by everyone for [my work in] basketball. I don’t want to be remembered for anything more than that.”

Shiba Maggon with S RobinsonMaggon poses for a picture alongside men’s star S Robinson. Image courtesy- Shiba Maggon

 

***

We all have people in our lives, who make us who we are today. These are the people who inspire us, guide us, teach us and make us laugh. Some even make us cry.

The same was the case with Shiba.

“Shelly believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I began to understand her value, her worth only after she left. What I do now, I wish I had done it while she was still around.”

Shiba Maggon continues to live her sister’s dreams.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.