J. R. Shridharan
VIJAYAWADA: Dwindling job opportunities and lack interest among parents are acting as deterrents for the growth of volleyball in Andhra Pradesh, according to Dronacharya and Arjuna awardee A. Ramana Rao.
Speaking to The Hindu on Monday, the veteran spiker, who marshalled the Indian team as coach on many occasions, expressed regret that many Central and State agencies and organisations were not evincing interest in proving job opportunities to talented volleyall players. Among Central organisations, the Indian Railways was doing so on a regular basis.
“During the last 14 years, not many agencies and departments of the State government and the Central government have offered jobs to spikers. Earlier, we had the AP Police, AG office, EME and Artillery Centre offering jobs to talented volleyball players. Not anymore. Those institutions even had teams which represented in several prestigious national-level tournaments,” he pointed out.
Mr. Rao said that the quality players were migrating to neighbouring States like Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where jobs were available aplenty. “Institutions like Customs and Income Tax are keen on roping in AP players. For any player, financial security is important. They do not want to end up jobless,” he opined. The coach said even the State Bank of India, which recruited many players earlier, had stopped offering jobs.
Mr. Rao said the Andhra Pradesh Volleyball Association had made a representation to the Chief Minister and the Home Minister to earmark some jobs in the police recruitment to spikers. “But we are yet to receive any favourable reply from them,” he said.
The precarious condition of the volleyball players are making the parents think twice before introducing their wards to the game. “Many youngsters come to volleyball to get a certificate to join professional courses like engineering and medicine in sports quota,” he said.
Mr. Rao felt that sports should make inroads into rural areas to tap the innate talent.
“More number of tournaments should be held in villages and mandals to identify precocious players,” he felt.