Sports

Volleyball body needs to develop synthetic courts for juniors too

Saba Nayakan Kolkata | Updated on March 03, 2013

One for the net: Kerala’s M. J. Alphonsa (18) smashes the ball into the West Bengal team area during the 60th senior women’s National volleyball championship at Raipur, held in January last year (file photo).   -  Business Line

The revival of the Federation Cup volleyball tournament is sure to give a fillip to the sport in the long run. One of the most sought after and fiercely-contested championships is being held in Kerala, which, incidentally, has been the National men’s champion for the past two years in a row. The State also provides ample talent to the National women’s champion, Railways.

Kerala’s passion for the sport is second to none. Some of the finest spikers have emerged from this tiny State. From the legendary late Jimmy George to the marvellous current player Tom Joseph , Kerala has produced many stalwarts who have served the National team with aplomb.

The ladies team, too, has the potential to excel but Railways has always proved to be the best as it has recruited the best of talent, denying Kerala the chance to hold the coveted trophy.

Bengal net

The game has a big fan following in Bengal too. The West Bengal Volleyball Association (WBVA) runs the show efficiently. To the credit of the WBVA, the women’s team has always been among the top four in the country and has contributed some great players to in the National pool.

There were many who donned India colours in junior, youth and senior National teams. Players such as Tapati Mondal, Krishna Tarafdar, Mahamaya Samaddar, Mita Mukherjee, Laxmi Neogi, Tapasi Chowdhury and Abha Mukherjee are some who readily come to the mind.

Bengal had a terrific year in 2011 when it emerged third in the senior women’s, first in junior women’s and second in the youth category . The current season has proved to be a damp squib, mainly owing to key players moving over to the higher age group and the inability of newcomers to gel together in a team environment.

One of the main reasons why Bengal has been doing well in the sport is because it has been able to attract talent from the districts in a big way. The WBVA, the hub of activity throughout the year excepting the rainy season, has been organising competitions during the major part of the year, thus keeping players on their toes.

For long, the WBVA has failed to improve the sports infrastructure . All the international competitions and most of the senior Nationals are held on synthetic courts where the game places enormous demands on speed and stamina. Unfortunately, most of the competitions for sub-junior, junior and youth are held on outdoor clay courts.

To excel at the continental and world level, the players need to get a feel of the synthetic courts from a very young age. Constant exposure on such a playing arena enables them to learn the basics well. Yet, Bengal does not have a single synthetic court for children to practice on.

For long, this has been neglected by the WBVA. It is high time the association gave serious thought to establishing proper infrastructure for the players to hone their skills.

>sabanayakan.s@thehindu.co.in

Published on March 03, 2013

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