KOCHI: Mohan Ukkrapandian showed why he is the best setter in the country with a stellar performance for Kochi Blue Spikers in the Pro Volleyball League (PVL). The 29-year-old led his team to victory over U Mumba on Saturday. The Tamil Nadu player led the Indian team at the 2018 Asian Games where they finished 12th out of the 20 teams. The Indian skipper spoke about how he is hoping that the PVL can revive the sport in the country by grooming young talent. Excerpts:
How do you assess the national team’s performance in Jakarta?
The international arena is very competitive and the level keeps improving. We were unable to compete at the world stage for a few years until Jakarta. Being away was a factor that led to our poor performance. We had four-five players who had no experience of playing on the world stage.
How can the standards improve?
The youngsters will start gaining experience and will improve as we keep participating in more tournaments. The PVL is a great step towards that and the credit goes to Volleyball Federation of India and the PVL organizers. There was a volleyball league which started in 2011 but that didn’t work out. This time, everyone knows how to run a league and we are here now. It think this can help in the revival of volleyball.
PVL is a one-month league. What after that?
We all play for companies or clubs and we will continue to participate in various tournaments. Most of the leagues are for short duration and not for an entire year. There will be All India tournaments, Federation Cup as well as the Asian Championship which will be held this year. So there is a lot of tournaments to play in even after the league.
Will this league help India’s performance?
This will definitely help. Maybe not next year or the year after that but in the long run. It is going to be a slow process. We are playing with international players and we are getting good exposure. We can learn a lot which will help us in the future.
How is the league helping players?
If you look at cricket in the 90s, Sachin Tendulkar was the face of cricket in India. If he got out during a game, there was nobody else. Now thanks to the IPL, so many players have got visibility and many new players have come up. They have made a name for themselves and earned fame. PVL is the same. Youngsters will be the biggest beneficiaries. They are getting visibility.