A 13-day Level II course has 22 coaches from India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh learning the nuances of the game from experts

The FIVB (international body for volleyball) Regional Development Centre in the city is rendering yeoman service to the sport, and without much hype and hoopla. Producing quality coaches has been its aim and by enhancing the sport's appeal through seminars for setters and blockers and basic (Level-I) and advanced (Level-II) courses, the centre has ensured the city continues to remain a hub of volleyball activities.

The centre, only one of its kind in Central Asia, has been doing an exceptionally good job under the dynamic leadership of its Director, A. Ramana Rao. The 13-day Level II course, organised by the Department of Physical Education and Sports, which concludes on November 28, has 22 coaches from India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh learning the nuances of the sport from the German FIVB Instructor Athanasios Papagergiou and Ramana Rao.

What participants feel

“It's been fantastic so far,” smiles Mahbub from Bangladesh, who is a volleyball coach in a local school in Dhaka. “I can use all that I've learnt here in my country. I am keen to develop a good women's team in my country,” he adds.

Indian Overseas Bank chief coach, P. Sundaram, is ecstatic about the course and feels it will help him keep his team, a top outfit in the State, in good shape. “The course keeps all participants up-to-date with improvements in the game. It talks about team combinations, programmes to be implemented for players during camps and the format to be used. It also focusses on the physical and psychological aspects of players, how to handle them, and how to analyse yours as well as the opponent's team. Everything is available here,” says the 32-year-old former International player.

C. Sri Kesavan, coach of Sivanthi Volleyball Club, Chennai, feels the course has been a great platform for coaches to upgrade their knowledge and train State and National teams. By undergoing it, Kesavan feels, a coach can impart different kinds of training to the players without making them bored. “Though it is at an advanced level, we can learn something new from it,” says the 32-year-old former Tamil Nadu player. “The best aspect is it gives an idea of how a player can be trained without injuring himself.”

G. P. Goswami, who coaches the University team in Gwalior, says the experience has been good. “The course is well-conceived and comprehensive. Ramana Rao and the German coach are doing their best,” he says. Ajit Patel, coach of the Maharashtra men's team, feels the course given him new ideas. “I will impart these to Physical Education Teachers and coaches in the districts,” he says.

International experience

FIVB Instructor, Papagergiou, is a familiar name in volleyball circles, having written more than 10 books on the sport. The 66-year-old, after having spent most of his active life shuttling between Germany and his place of birth, Greece, has travelled to different countries only in the last one year after his retirement, thanks to the FIVB's assignments. “When the FIVB asked me whether I could go to India, I said, ‘it's my pleasure',” he says.

Papagergiou listens to each and every coach's doubts, answering them patiently. During a practical course held at the University Union Indoor Stadium — Papagergiou made the SRM University players train there — he clarified several doubts. Having trained top German clubs such as Bayer Leverkusen and Fortune Bonn, Papagergiou says, though the course is short it is a valuable guide for coaches. “The Development Centre in Chennai is one of the best because it is well-organised and conducts seminars and courses for coaches,” says the German, who is currently the coach of his country's volleyball team for the disabled.

Ramana Rao, however, feels the Volleyball Federation of India can do more to popularise the activities of the Regional Development Centre. “For a country of our size, more people should use the facility. Many in the volleyball fraternity should be made aware of its benefits,” says the former International player and an FIVB Instructor. He suggests physical education teachers of schools and colleges could be trained in the nuances of the sport.” There is little doubt that the Regional Development Centre in Chennai is in for some exciting times.

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