We speak to PV Sindhu, Akhin GS, David Lee and Jerome Vinith, all stalwarts in their own right over the inaugural season of the Pro Volleyball League, and they tell us that finally, Volleyball enthusiasts have a reason to rejoice.
How important are leagues to the growth of a sport in the country?
PV Sindhu: Every domain sees a shift in the paradigm from time to time. That shift in paradigm in Indian sports came in the form of the emergence of leagues starting from IPL in cricket. In subsequent years, leagues have become a trend and a very successful one.
Akhin GS: Leagues have developed the interest of crowds with innovations and anything that brings more people into the stadium and allows players to showcase their talent to a larger audience is good for the game. Besides, leagues mean that it’s not the select few who represent the national team that gets all the attention and, in fact, provide a platform to younger players to play at the same level with them.
David Lee: Leagues around the world have changed equations by bringing sportsmen of different backgrounds closer to each other. The exchange of ideas and strategies that takes place also has an impact on changing the sport from within and elevating it to a higher and more attractive level.
Jerome Vinith: We have seen how so many amazing sportsmen who were not greatly popular a decade ago, have become household names because of their performances in these sporting leagues.
Where do you see Volleyball in the country 10 years down the line?
PV Sindhu: Volleyball is already a very popular sport in the country. Hopefully, post the league, its popularity will spread even more.
David Lee: I’m pretty happy to see the excitement around the first edition of the league and if that excitement is anything to go by, the future of the sport looks bright and exciting to me in this country. The league has also generated interest of Volleyball fraternity outside India and I have got a lot of queries about the league from foreign players and coaches.
Jerome Vinith: As a player, there is no dream bigger than representing one’s country on the Olympics stage. Ten years is a long time and hopefully, as a player, we can take the sport to a level where we can compete on the Olympics stage.
Akhin GS: I am hoping the league brings more attention to the game from fans. While the game is popular, we would love to have crowds fill up stadiums for India matches in the coming years.
Do leagues enhance a player’s game at an individual level?
David Lee: For any sportsman, bigger the stage, better is the incentive to perform better. When you have bigger audiences cheering for you, it just adds to your motivation to achieve naturally. As a result, you work on your game even harder.
PV Sindhu: In the leagues, the competition is different. In a team sport like Volleyball, there’s an opportunity to understand team dynamics from a very different perspective. Your roles also change slightly. Besides, there’s a lot of exchange of ideas among players. All these do have an impact on one as a player.
Does India have the potential to be a global powerhouse in volleyball one day?
Jerome Vinith: There is a lot of talent in the grassroots in the country. With the right opportunities and the right exposure, I’m sure we can be a force to reckon with on the world stage in the coming times.
Akhin GS: We already have a team that can compete at the highest level. To be a global powerhouse is a definite dream and I’m sure we are moving in the right direction. Thanks to the league now, young players can improve their game as they get to rub shoulders with the best of the world like Lee, Lotman and others.
“For any sportsman, bigger the stage, better is the incentive to perform”, says David Lee. He is an American volleyball player who is currently playing for Indian Club, Kochi Blue Spikers in Pro Volleyball Leauge.
Rio Olympics silver medallist in badminton, PV Sindhu’s parents were former volleyball players who represented the country at several events. According to her volleyball is a spectator-friendly sport and requires high energy.