INDIAN VOLLEYBALL AND VOLLEYBALL IN INDIA | If you read the title and thought “Yes! I remember playing volleyball in school”, then you’re one of the thousands of people who experienced the joy of volleyball while growing up. It may not have been your first choice during P.E. sessions, but you can’t deny that playing volleyball was always an enjoyable experience.
That can probably be attributed to the fact that in its very essence, volleyball is simple, inclusive and safe. It is unfortunate that the average youth in India today chooses to squarely focus their attention on cricket, football or badminton and mostly discount the possibility of choosing volleyball as recreation when volleyball makes such a strong case for being mentioned in the same breath.
Unbeknownst to many, volleyball is still probably one of the most practised sports in schools. This is true across urban and rural India, especially in the south. And it should be! Compared to a lot of other mainstream sports, volleyball requires minimal infrastructure and equipment. All that is needed is a ball, a net (but not really, a rope works just fine) and a safe surface to play on. For a developing nation like India, that’s as good as it gets in terms of accessibility.
It also provides the option of playing anything from a 1v1 to a 6v6, or more; any number that seems appropriate for the space available. Space! Boy, do we sweat over space in India? And here you have a sport which requires significantly less space without reducing the element of fun.
Not sold yet? Let us talk about the positives of playing the sport then. The game in itself demands the use of all 4 limbs, quick decision-making, and seamless teamwork. So the players come outfitter, with faster physical and mental reflexes, better hand-eye coordination, and learn to function as a team player.
There’s a beautiful pitch for any youth sports participation project. Not to mention the possibility of the game being completely gender-balanced. Now you have brownie points for being gender-inclusive. This is of course facilitated by the fact that it falls under the umbrella of a non-contact sport. This makes it safer for the participants and does not affect the blood pressure level of their parents as often.
It is not just from a participation perspective that volleyball makes a strong case. India has had some decent results in the past, finishing 4th in Men’s U-21 World Championship in 2009, a tournament which they hosted. In an ideal world of organic growth, India should have a decent senior men’s team presently. But turmoil within the national federation has proven to be a spanner in the works for the progress of India as a volleyball powerhouse, at least in Asia.
However, with a world ranking of 38 and 7th in Asia, India has room for swift improvement through a sound development strategy. A good step in the same direction could be for the national federation to make use of the comprehensive development assistance provided by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB). These are through initiatives like Volleyball Your Way and Cool Volley. Both being campaigns which could boost the amateur participation in volleyball within the country.
All in all, volleyball is definitely a sport which deserves more participation in India, at all levels. It makes for a perfect recreational sport. It could also be easily adapted as a sport by most sports development or sport for development curriculums. And given a few years, it could be the next big chapter in the rapidly unfolding story of Indian sports.
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