'IVL best thing to have happened to volleyball'

Interview

fanning hopes National Senior team coach G Sridharan (inset) believes the Indian Volley League will help unearth talent in the country. DH PHOTO/ SRIKANTA SHARMA R

In four memorable editions, the Indian Premier League has in more ways than one benefitted cricket but it remains to be seen if the Volleyball Federation of India’s Indian Volley League will do the same for a sport on lifesupport system.

Former India player and the present India senior men’s team coach G Sridharan, who believes that IVL is the best thing to have happened to volleyball in a long time, assured that the league has done what it was designed to do and will exceed all expectations in time to come.

Excerpts:
Could you tell us more about the IVL?

We have spent countless nights dreaming of a league like this and it’s amazing to see that it’s up and running now. We might not have drawn as much crowd as we expected but everything starts slow and picks up eventually. I genuinely think this is a great initiative. With almost every senior player from the Indian National team and a whole bunch of aspiring young players, this league will provide everyone to level-playing field and that’s essential in improving the state of the sport in the country. We faced many hurdles in the process of making the IVL come to fruition and we know we will face lot more in the future but we will make it alright.

Can you name some junior players who have shown the VFI selection committee that they can make it to the senior team?

To name a few, Rohit P, Prabhakaran, Deepesh, Navajith Singh (all three from IVL side Chennai Spikers), Anup D’Costa (Karnataka Bulls), Selva Prabhu (Maratha Warriors). These players have really caught our attention and are turning out to be quite good, especially Rohit. When juniors are on the roster for the National team or in their inter-department matches, they barely get a chance to enter the court, and that really makes it hard for us to identify them. We might have lost out on a talent in the past because of that but with IVL we hope to rectify those anomalies.

What changes will the IVL see in the coming years?

We are planning to take this tournament to the next level in the future. From introducing foreign payers to further improving the facilities available to players. Next year we will have two foreign players per team in the League. The teams will get to choose from a list we provide them according their requirements.

Is the VFI planning to bring out a similar league for women?

Of course, we will have a women’s league in the future but as of now the standard is really low. When we think that a proper league can be established for them, we will. See, basically we will do everything in our power to take volleyball to the next level in India.

How much of a difference will the IVL make to aspiring youngsters?

As the IVL is being shown on TV, a lot of youngsters will see and take up the sport and also have idols, like in the IPL. That will give us so many more options to work with in the future. This is our first year and we are bound to make some mistakes, I’ll accept that we have. It’s a trial and error process and in the end it will all be great.

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