Volleyball players at the 42nd Kerala State senior championship have been frequently caught shivering and rubbing their hands thanks to the chilly weather at hilly Wayanad here that has left them with chattering teeth.

Matches on the opening day ended around 1.30 a.m. and have been going late over the last few days too.

“It’s too cold at the stadium, couldn’t sit and watch the other match,” said T.P. Sayuj, defending champion Ernakulam’s star, almost running away from the venue after his team’s game on Wednesday night.

Sleepless nights, poor accommodation and a meagre daily allowance are some of the things players have been suffering quietly over the last few years. Now, they have formed a players’ union which is not only bent on improving their lot but also coming up with some very laudable moves.

Last year, some of the State’s top teams played a tournament in Kochi and presented Rs. 3 lakh to the family of the late P.K. Sunil Kumar, the former Kerala captain.

“All the departmental teams played for free, just to raise money for Sunil,” said BPCL Kochi Refinery’s former international Kishore Kumar, the Secretary of the Kerala Welfare Association of Volleyball Players (KWAVP), on Thursday.

A few months ago, the State’s biggest stars, including Tom Joseph, played another tournament at Chathangottunad in Kozhikode to raise money. Work on a school ground was completed and the rest of the money went into a savings account. “We want to help out players who don’t have jobs… two players suffered knee injuries recently and need surgery, we want to help them meet the operation expenses with the money we have saved,” said Kishore.

Increase in allowance

The players’ union has also been frequently talking to the Kerala State Volleyball Association to increase the daily allowance during the State Championships.

A 14-member team was paid a paltry total of Rs. 600 per day till last year.

“We have made it Rs. 900 this year, but we understand that it is still very little, this is just a start, we will try to raise it further in phases,” said Nalakath Basheer of the State association.

He also said that the new P. Gopalakrishnan Nair Endowment Fund has been started with an amount of Rs. 1 lakh.

“We want to raise it to Rs. 25 lakhs to help out players and coaches in need,” said Basheer.

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