“She was just too good,” said Navas Vahab, the Kerala coach, shortly after the final of the National youth volleyball championship. And he wasn’t talking about one of his players.
He was talking of a player from the team which beat Kerala in the final. All those who watched M.S. Poornima in action at the National youth meet at Shegaon, Maharashtra, would agree with him.
Poornima, who captained SAI, was named the best player of the tournament. “It felt nice to be recognised for my effort, and it was wonderful that my team could win the title,” said the 19-year-old.
“Playing for the SAI team — for the first time ever — too was a great experience; I have been training at SAI, Thalassery, for the last five years. Besides me, there were four others from the Thalassery SAI — C.C. Athira, Akhila M. Benny, Bismin Majeed and Athira Sreedharan.”
The champion team at Shegaon was coached by T. Balachandran, the SAI coach at Thalassery. He said Poornima was brilliant at Shegaon.
“She was in superb form right through and was particularly impressive in the final,” he said. “She proved once again that she is one of the finest talents we have in Indian women’s volleyball today.”
Poornima, a Second Year B.A. (Functional English) student at Govt. Brennen College, Thalassery, has already played for India three times, for the junior, youth and senior teams. “To play for India has always been my dream,” she says. “I want to be one of the best in the country.”
Her coach believes she could. “She is a natural player and already has few equals in Indian volleyball as a centre-blocker,” he says.
“Her jump measures 3.03m. She is powerful and hard-working. And she is fast developing as an all-rounder.”
Poornima, who hails from the small village of Thiruvallur near Vatakara, is all set to join Southern Railway, a move she hopes would help her become an even better player.
“I look forward to playing along with some of India’s best volleyball players,” she said. “Though there are a couple of good teams in Kerala now, I think my game would benefit more by playing for the Railway team.”