Other Sports

Kerala’s winning strategy

Almost the entire Indian team comes from the Southern State

Two years ago, a top coach felt a bit embarrassed when she revealed that almost the entire Indian women’s volleyball team for the Jakarta Asian Games hailed from Kerala.

Did it mean that the other States were not doing anything for the sport? “That sort of thinking could turn out to be a problem for us,” she said.

On Thursday, the Kerala women showed why they were so good. They brushed aside Railways in straight sets to retain the senior National title in Bhubaneswar.

The Kerala girls probably even noticed a certain fear in their opponents’ eyes in the final. For they had beaten Railways in straight sets in the Federation Cup in Amritsar in October.

“We had broken a major psychological barrier when we beat 10-time champion Railways in a tough final in the senior Nationals in Chennai last year. It was easier today,” Sadanandan, the chief coach of the Kerala women’s team, told The Hindu from Bhubaneswar on Thursday. “And our easy victory in the last Federation Cup gave us a lot of confidence.”

Sadanandan, who has now guided Kerala women to a hat-trick of triumphs (two Nationals, one Federation Cup), felt that his team’s solid defence virtually broke Railways.

“We knew that if we play a proper defence, it would frustrate them. So, we were very good at the net, blocked well and also put up an extraordinary defence in the last line,” he said.

“We knew that if they are unable to score when they desperately wanted to win, they would go down. That strategy worked.”

He said K.P. Anusree, M. Sruthi and setter K.S. Jini served very well and that disrupted the Railways’ reception. “In the attack, S. Soorya did extremely well along with our universal K.P. Anusree.”

Incidentally, Kerala had seven players who were in the Asian Games team.

“Half the Railways team came from Kerala. And 10 players from this team are from the KSEB and two are from Kerala Police and they train at LNCPE, Thiruvananthapuram,” said Sadanandan.

He said the many clubs and academies in the State’s villages and towns worked very hard at the grassroots level. “And we have the maximum number of tournaments in all age-groups. No other State has this many tournaments. And since the KSEB and Police offer jobs, more youngsters are keen to take up the sport.”

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 6:57:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/keralas-winning-strategy/article30462639.ece

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