National coach G. E. Sridharan is upbeat about the future of volleyball in the country post the recent National Sub Junior Championship which revealed that there is no dearth of talent

Watching the veritable future stars of the sport is encouraging for any coach. Chennai brought such moments to G. E. Sridharan, the national volleyball coach, as he watched young boys and girls fight it out for their teams in the National Sub Junior Championship.

One thing was clear to the former player: there is no dearth of talent in India. “We need to tap and nurture it, and ensure it is channelled on the right lines,” he said.

“We can find good players in Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the South, while Uttarakhand and Rajasthan in the North have been producing enterprising players for long. What is important is to ensure proper care is taken of such players to help them succeed at the next level. Also, it is necessary to guide them so that they don't lose interest in the game,” Sridharan added. He was happy that the Volleyball Federation of India was doing just that and also planning programmes for the betterment of the game the country. According to the National coach, the VFI's current concern is a good showing in the Asian Cup (in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in July) and the Asian Games (Incheon, South Korea, in September). “That is the priority and for this we are moving in the right direction,” he said. The youth development programmes are working well. Most of the players are good, both physically and technically. “The VFI has asked the coaches to follow a set programme. The players are being trained vigorously at the lower level and, I hope, it bears fruit when they graduate to the next level,” Sridharan said. Normally, 60 to 70 per cent of the junior players make a mark at the senior level.

Optimistic

Sridharan's optimism lies in the fact that most of the state teams are now being managed by former players, including internationals. Such involvement of past players has been a blessing for the sport. “We conduct camps regularly for all age groups. The stress here is not only on the basics but even minute details, which I feel is good, he said.

Of the present lot, much has been talked about players such as Naveen Raja Jacob, Gurvinder Singh, Navjeet Singh and Vaishnav, and they have not disappointed. “These players, and some others, have come up through various age-group levels. They have shown that a good beginning, proper training, and consistency will take them places,” he said.

Sridharan acknowledges the benefits of exposing young players to competitions and leagues outside the country, especially in Europe. “That would help them in their all-round development and prepare them for tournaments featuring stronger teams such as China and Kazakhstan in Asia.”

Going by the words of the National coach and the efforts taken by the VFI, happy days are ahead for Indian volleyball.