Winning the men’s title in the recent senior National championship and the Federation Cup underscores the fact that the Tamil Nadu volleyball team is set to bring more laurels to the State in the future
A few days after Tamil Nadu clinched the men's title in the senior National volleyball championships at Moradabad in December, the mood among the players and officials was upbeat. The players next set their sights on the Federation Cup.
“The victory at the Nationals was sweet and I am confident we will win the Federation Cup too,” G.E. Sridharan, the national coach had said then.
True to his words, Tamil Nadu annexed the Federation Cup in Kerala recently. The tournament has seen many ups and downs and was discontinued for a while before being reintroduced last season.
Even though it is a smaller event compared to the Nationals, a triumph is a triumph and winning two major titles in a short period of time underlines the depth of talent in volleyball in the state.
While the senior National involves all the top guns, the Federation Cup has the cream — the top eight — in the country fighting it out for honours.
At present, apart from Tamil Nadu, the other big teams in the country are Services, Uttarakhand and Railways. The latter team did not play in Kerala this time. And squaring up to them is a hard task for any side.
However, Tamil Nadu was not to be denied as it went about its job in an assured manner, winning five matches, including the semifinals and the final.A big boost
“The players were confident to start with. The National triumph was a big boost as it involved more teams, and a bigger challenge, than the Federation Cup,” said Venkatesan, the chief coach. “We were helped a lot by the fact that most of the players have been playing in one tournament or the other in the run-up to the event.
“They were in form and not afraid to take on the best, though Haryana was not as good a team as it was earlier. We had a plan in place and did the job accordingly. For example, Services had a very good universal and its blocker was also excellent. We prepared so well that we were able to nullify the opposition in all departments.”
Tamil Nadu mostly relied on the experienced combination of Ukkarapandian (setter) and Naveen Raja Jacob (attacker), apart from youngsters Vaishnav and Akhin (blockers). The four, as expected, excelled in their respective roles.
With its superior showing, Tamil Nadu has once again underlined the fact that it has become a volleyball powerhouse in the country. There's no doubt that more titles are in store for the State.