Sanjay Kumar in action during the Indian Volleyball League
HYDERABAD: Sanjay Kumar Beniwal is one of the towering figures of Indian volleyball.
Tall and backed with a lethal finish, he is one of the Arjuna Award recipients this year. “He deserves the award for he has been brilliant in many tournaments for the country,” said coach GE Sree dharan.
Born in Bhiwani district of Haryana, famous for producing boxers, the village of Mak rana is proud to have a volleyball star in the 27-year-old Sanjay Kumar.
“Though many preferred to choose boxing as their favourite sport, my family was keen in me taking up to volleyball,” said the six feet six inches tall international. “We are all tall in our family and the height advantage helped us to have a liking for volleyball.
My brother Ranbhir played for the state and I follow ed him,” added Sanjay.
He made a mark when he represented Haryana in the sub-junior nationals in 1999.
He soon became a permanent member of the state and Ha ryana have won the natio nals twice.
Sanjay Kumar rose to pr om inence as an universal sp iker.
It was soon he won the Indian cap. “I preferred to be an universal attacker as I like to smash the ball hard. It needed a lot of hard work. I worked for hours for perfection of the smash. In an age of professional era, the attacker has to be sharp at the net. As an attacker we have to look to all angles to avoid the bl oc ks,” said Sanjay.
Experts feel that Sanjay Kumar has brought a new dimension to the game for India.
According to former Indian captain Ravikanth Reddy, Sanjay Kumar is a ve ry di sciplined player.
“He is a very skilful attack er and has been asset to the Indian team ever since he ma de his debut for the country in the Asian Youth Championship at Visakhapatnam in 2003,” said Ravikanth.
Sanjay Kumar was named as the best attacker when India beat Iran 3-0 in that Asian Youth Championship final.
According to GV Madhav, former national player, was all praise for Sanjay’s com mitment to the game .
Non-controversial and physically- fit, Sanjay Kumar pl ayed in the Doha Asiad in 2006 and then led the team in the last Asian Games at Gu angzhou in 2010.
“Our players are very skillful.
But what we lack is good ex posure. Professional volleyball should come to India.
Most of the nations in the wo rld like Brazil, Italy, Iran and other European countries co ntinue to dominate in ma jor tournaments because of their strong professional lea gues,” said Sanjay, who is one of the few Indian players who plays in the Iranian League. “I enjoy the challenge.
I ha ve sharpened my sk ills by playing in the Iranian le a gue,” he said.
Sanjay Kumar added that the introduction of Indian Vo l ley League (IVL) is good thing to happen to the game in the country. “We need more such tournaments. The yo ung players will benefit and Indian volleyball will stand to gain,” he said.