It’s a Sunday however Anjan Saikia doesn’t have a lot spare time to speak. He’s busy making the ultimate preparations for the primary match of the volleyball crew he coaches in Majuli, the world’s greatest river island situated in Assam.
Higher Majuli, Saikia’s crew of boys beneath 16 years, which is a part of the continued Brahmaputra Volleyball League (BVL), are going to face a crew from Monomoy tea property in Jorhat and everybody within the area is happy.
“The sport was to start out at 11 am however because the ferry carrying the crew to Majuli reached late, we’re having a delayed begin. We hope to start out with a win. Subsequent month we are going to go to them for an away recreation,” stated Saikia.
“The league has reignited ardour for volleyball in our space. Numerous new gamers are popping out and they’re being inspired by their dad and mom. Different villagers are additionally concerned in making ready the bottom, guaranteeing correct hospitality of visiting crew, and many others,” he added.
Although solely 4 of his wards are participating within the league, Saikia is coaching 62 gamers at current. Higher Majuli is being sponsored by Krishna Hazarika Rao and Asawari Parmar, each worldwide badminton gamers who represented the nation in a number of competitions.
Saikia and Higher Majuli aren’t alone. At current, 50 groups, 33 of them boys and 17 women, representing rural areas throughout Assam are participating within the BVL, the brainchild of Abhijeet Bhattacharya, a former nationwide volleyball captain.
After representing India at varied ranges for a few years and main the crew, Bhattacharya joined Oil and Pure Fuel Fee (ONGC) and was on the lookout for methods to present again to the sport in a roundabout way when he visited a village in Thelamara near his hometown Tezpur 12 years in the past.
“On the village, we noticed round 15 women enjoying volleyball whereas the boys have been sitting and watching. When requested, they stated their volleyball has received broken and they should watch for few months to get a brand new one. I then determined to do one thing constructive and lasting for volleyball,” he stated.
Bhattacharya gave the boys a brand new ball and a web and began organising matches amongst groups within the space. He additionally received dad and mom of the gamers and village elders concerned. Quickly, the matches turned an anticipated exercise the place villagers got here to observe and cheer the groups and cooked meals for all these gathered.
With partial funding from the ONGC and help of buddies, a sports activities hostel was constructed between 2014 and 2018 at Beseria close to Tezpur the place the gamers may come and get skilled. Bhattacharya additionally fashioned a corporation referred to as Rengoni Youth Sports activities Basis.
A dialogue with few former gamers led to start out of the Assam Volleyball Mission 100 in September final yr with the target of offering 100 volleyballs to groups in want throughout Assam. This initiative linked Bhattacharya with 50 small groups throughout the state.
Quickly, a three-week coaching programme beneath an Indian crew coach was organised in Tezpur to improve the talents of coaches who have been concerned in these groups. For the primary time, these coaches learnt correct strategies to enhance health and volleyball expertise of the gamers.
The following step was to create 100 gamers who can characterize the state and the nation and play the sport professionally. However all plans took a backseat with Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the nation.
“With a purpose to hold gamers motivated, I developed a module to impart coaching to them on-line. It began with younger gamers from three tea gardens. It quickly was the Brahmaputra Volley League with the intention of constructing Assam among the finest volleyball groups within the nation,” stated Bhattacharya.
Whereas regular groups have six gamers per facet, it was determined to maintain crew dimension at 4 gamers with gamers going from one village to a different to play video games – a house and away format. The host village was requested to develop the play space and organize meals and keep for the visiting groups.
With a purpose to present for package, uniform and journey prices of groups, the phrase was unfold to search for sponsors who would spend a minimum of Rs 15,000 per crew. This introduced in individuals like former Indian nationwide badminton champion Aparna Popat who adopted groups.
“I got here to learn about it from a few buddies who have been sponsoring groups. I received very excited as that is one thing which is being finished in a deliberate method within the grassroots. My crew has misplaced its first two video games, however the pleasure of kids enjoying is price it,” stated Popat who sponsors Pub Nalbari.
“The concept of the league made us be part of instantly. I, together with buddies from college and college, am concerned in 5 groups. We’re very constructive that this initiative will change the volleyball state of affairs in Assam,” stated Devabrata Chakravarty, joint secretary of Assam Affiliation, Mumbai.
Quickly, a emblem was made and somebody even wrote and composed a music for the league. The emblem was unveiled by eminent athlete Hima Das earlier this month and the league began from December 12 with matches held on weekends in order that gamers are capable of return to their houses the identical day. The league will finish in February subsequent yr.
“One can begin a volleyball crew with as little as Rs 2,000 – the associated fee for a great ball and the online. The small step taken by us has been warmly obtained by gamers and villagers and even with none involvement of the state authorities, it has develop into a motion. This can be a excellent signal for the sport,” stated Bhattacharya.
Sunday ended on a great observe for Saikia and Higher Majuli as they have been capable of defeat the Monomoy tea property crew in two straight units.
“The format is a bit difficult as 4 gamers must cowl the courtroom as a substitute of six, however we’re having fun with the league. I’ve been enjoying volleyball for 2 years and need to take up the sport professionally,” stated 15-year-old captain of Higher Majuli, Lakhiram Das, a pupil of sophistication 10.
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