KOCHI: Kochi Blue Spikers captain Mohan Ukkrapandian couldn't hide his delight about playing in front of the spectators gathered at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium in Kochi. "The support for the Kochi team has been very positive. It is a great setting to play volleyball. The players are loving it. Playing here gives us a lot of encouragement and the crowd is amazing," Ukkrapandian said after his team beat U Mumba Volley in the opening match of the Pro Volleyball League.
The newly-conceptualised PVL, along the lines of the Indian Premier League, Pro Kabaddi League and Premier Badminton League, comes under the category of what can be termed as sportainment. On match days, the Indoor stadium transforms into a place with a party atmosphere with laser lights, groovy music and other fan engagement efforts in an attempt to mix sports with entertainment.
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On the sporting front, PVL has brought together the best volleyball talents from across the country. Six teams will play a total of 12 matches in the city before the action shifts to Chennai.
"We feel like stars. It feels great to play here and I hope the fans enjoy the league. We won the first match, so that was a good start. It is important that we play good volleyball for the fans," Ukkrapandian said. He said the league is a great platform for the players.
With two teams from Kerala competing in the league, a good turnout was witnessed for the first two matches. In Spikers' match, fans turned up with banners, wearing face paints. In the second match, a sea of supporters from Calicut turned up for the Calicut Heroes' match against Chennai Spartans.
The organizers chose Kerala as a centre knowing the love and following that the state has for volleyball.
"We believe volleyball is a brilliant sport and Kerala and most of the south know that. The question is whether we can make this look as good as all sports," the PVL CEO Joy Bhattacharjya said.
Kerala have two teams in the PVL in Kochi Blue Spikers and Calicut Heroes . Both of them have made strong starts to the league with wins and are firmly in contention to win the title.