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.
Upper Majuli, Saikia’s crew of boys underneath 16 years, which is a part of the continuing Brahmaputra Volleyball League (BVL), are going to face a crew from Monomoy tea property in Jorhat and everybody within the area is worked up.
“The game was to start at 11 am but as the ferry carrying the team to Majuli reached late, we are having a delayed start. We hope to start with a win. Next month we will visit them for an away game,” stated Saikia.
“The league has reignited passion for volleyball in our area. A lot of new players are coming out and they are being encouraged by their parents. Other villagers are also involved in preparing the ground, ensuring proper hospitality of visiting team, etc,” he added.
Though solely 4 of his wards are collaborating within the league, Saikia is coaching 62 gamers at current. Upper 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 Upper Majuli usually are not alone. At current, 50 groups, 33 of them boys and 17 women, representing rural areas throughout Assam are collaborating within the BVL, the brainchild of Abhijeet Bhattacharya, a former nationwide volleyball captain.
After representing India at numerous ranges for a few years and main the crew, Bhattacharya joined Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) and was searching for methods to provide again to the sport in a roundabout way when he visited a village in Thelamara near his hometown Tezpur 12 years in the past.
“At the village, we saw around 15 girls playing volleyball while the boys were sitting and watching. When asked, they said their volleyball has got damaged and they need to wait for few months to get a new one. I then decided to do something positive and lasting for volleyball,” he stated.
Bhattacharya gave the boys a brand new ball and a internet and began organising matches amongst groups within the space. He additionally received dad and mom of the gamers and village elders concerned. Soon, the matches grew to become 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 assist of mates, a sports activities hostel was constructed between 2014 and 2018 at Beseria close to Tezpur the place the gamers may come and get educated. Bhattacharya additionally fashioned a corporation referred to as Rengoni Youth Sports Foundation.
A dialogue with few former gamers led to start out of the Assam Volleyball Mission 100 in September final 12 months with the target of offering 100 volleyballs to groups in want throughout Assam. This initiative related Bhattacharya with 50 small groups throughout the state.
Soon, a three-week coaching programme underneath an Indian crew coach was organised in Tezpur to improve the abilities 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 subsequent step was to create 100 gamers who can symbolize the state and the nation and play the sport professionally. But all plans took a backseat with Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the nation.
“In order to keep players motivated, I developed a module to impart training to them online. It started with young players from three tea gardens. It soon turned into the Brahmaputra Volley League with the aim of making Assam one of the best volleyball teams in the country,” stated Bhattacharya.
While regular groups have six gamers per aspect, 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 prepare meals and keep for the visiting groups.
In order to supply for equipment, uniform and journey prices of groups, the phrase was unfold to search for sponsors who would spend at the least Rs 15,000 per crew. This introduced in individuals like former Indian nationwide badminton champion Aparna Popat who adopted groups.
“I came to know about it from a couple of friends who were sponsoring teams. I got very excited as this is something which is being done in a planned manner in the grassroots. My team has lost its first two games, but the joy of children playing is worth it,” stated Popat who sponsors Pub Nalbari.
“The idea of the league made us join immediately. I, along with friends from school and university, am involved in five teams. We are very positive that this initiative will change the volleyball scenario in Assam,” stated Devabrata Chakravarty, joint secretary of Assam Association, Mumbai.
Soon, 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 properties the identical day. The league will finish in February subsequent 12 months.
“One can start a volleyball team with as low as Rs 2,000 – the cost for a good ball and the net. The small step taken by us has been warmly received by players and villagers and even without any involvement of the state government, it has become a movement. This is a very good sign for the game,” stated Bhattacharya.
Sunday ended on a very good notice for Saikia and Upper Majuli as they have been capable of defeat the Monomoy tea property crew in two straight units.
“The format is a bit challenging as four players have to cover the court instead of six, but we are enjoying the league. I have been playing volleyball for two years and want to take up the game professionally,” stated 15-year-old captain of Upper Majuli, Lakhiram Das, a scholar of sophistication 10.