Ten years ago, when the Volleyball Federation of India (VFI) stopped the Federation Cup, it said that it would never conduct it in the inter-State format again.
The Federation Cup is now being revived and it will be held at Pathanamthitta in Kerala from February 24 to March 3, 2013 and once again, it will be an event for States. The Cup was last played at Triprayar in Thrissur in 2003, in an inter-State format.
“Of course, we have given the championship to Kerala, it will be an inter-State affair but the formalities, team confirmation and the facilities for teams will all be worked out in Jaipur during the senior Nationals in January,” said VFI secretary-general K. Murugan from Chennai on Wednesday. “The six best teams of the country will participate, the rest of the things will be worked out.”
The Federation Cup was a big hit when it was started in Tirupur, near Coimbatore, but slowly States began to send weak teams. “After the Nationals, they did not take interest and though we put up a rule that at least eight players who play in the Nationals should be in each team, it did not work out,” explained Murugan.
VFI then changed the format and made it an inter-club affair. “The first inter-club Federation Cup was also held at Tirupur, it was active for the first two years and even that slowly began to come down,” said the VFI secretary-general.
Few clubs now
“That is because in volleyball, big departments or big banks or big sponsors don’t run clubs like we have in cricket or hockey. We have institutions like the ONGC and Southern Railway, but if you look at individual clubs like the Sivanthi Club, GKM, there are no strong clubs. Earlier, we had several clubs… In Tamil Nadu alone we had 15 clubs, now nobody maintains individual clubs, we just have department teams.”
Murugan said the Federation Cup had now returned as an inter-State event because the Kerala State Volleyball Association wanted to host it in that format. “Yes, we had requested for the Federation Cup, we told the VFI at its last AGM in Dehradun two months ago that we wanted to reactivate the Federation Cup,” said Nalakath Basheer, the secretary of the Kerala association. “I also made a proposal that if nobody was willing to host the Federation Cup in future, we are ready to host it every year.”
Basheer said that since clubs have all-India tournaments, he wanted the Federation Cup as an inter-State affair. “But we have asked for a minimum of nine players who play the senior Nationals to be in each team. That’s our condition. They can change the other three, from the State or from other departmental teams but they must play for their home State.”
He said the event would be held at Pramadom, a few miles from Pathanamthitta, and that Kerala Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash was directly involved in its organisation.