P.K. Ajith Kumar
KOZHIKODE: Last Sunday, Kannur University won the all-India inter-university women’s volleyball title, for the fifth time in a row.
That is a remarkable feat. Even more so, when you consider the fact that Kannur University was born just 12 years ago.
It has taken a lot of hard work for Kannur to become the undisputed queen of women’s volleyball in the inter-university competitions.
“We had decided to focus women’s volleyball as one of our priority sports from early on, since this region has a strong tradition in volleyball,” says P.T. Joseph, Director of Physical Education.
“Instead of sending the teams for all the all-India events, we restrict the disciplines to around 10. That way we have been able to make better use of the funds allocated to sport by the university.”
Last year, the university started a centralised coaching scheme, which takes care of a student’s expenses towards hostel fee and training.
“Volleyball and athletics are the disciplines that come under the scheme,” says Joseph.
Key to success
Much of Kannur’s success at the inter-university volleyball championship has to be attributed to the SAI Centre (Thalassery). Most of the players are from SAI, and more importantly, they have been training as a group for the last few years.
“But I must say that Kannur University has been giving wonderful support to volleyball,” says T. Balachandran, who has been coaching at SAI (Thalassery) for the last seven years.
“The university has announced a cash prize of Rs. 5,000 per player for the team which won the championship this year; the authorities have always encouraged the team thus.”
Minimol Abraham, who captained the team to glory in front of a packed stadium at the Kannur University campus, says the girls were determined to keep the crown.
“We were playing in front of our home crowd, so we wanted to win at any cost,” she says. “We didn’t drop even a single set in the entire all-India championship. And, in the South-West Zone competition, we lost just one set, to Anna.”
Minimol, a junior international, was in sparkling form right through the tournament as a counter attacker. She was, in fact, named the best player of the championship. “V. Soumya was also very consistent as a spiker,” says Balachandran.
“And there were good performances from Cigi Prakash, P. Ramya, Anila Sacharia, Aleena Zacharia, L. Sruthimol and M.K. Gigi. Even players like Neethu Thankappan A. Jaseera, V.K. Soorya and N.K. Sajina contributed whenever they were given opportunities.”