KOCHI: Bir Singh Yadav had a tricky assignment in store when the 2018 Asian Games was around the corner. He was given the task of overseeing the Indian volleyball team at the Games in Jakarta. Under his watch, India were going to compete at the global stage after a gap of two years. The FIVB, the world body, had banned the Volleyball Federation of India (VFI) due to political infighting in 2016.
Lack of international matches had affected the players as they found out. “We could not take our strongest squad because some of the senior players opted not to make themselves available for selection. They had played in earlier Asian Games and didn’t want to participate. We had to take some youngsters instead. At the international stage, you need experience. The seniors who participated were deprived of competing at the international level. These things affected our performance,” Yadav recalled. India won just two matches out of six played at the Games and finished 12th.
“During the ban, players were active playing in tournaments for their clubs and companies. They preferred to continue playing at that level when the ban was lifted,” the national team coach said.
Yadav said that rebuilding the team will be a slow process. Setting aside national duties for the time being, Yadav is busy with his latest assignment. He is the coach of Black Hawks Hyderabad, who are one of the six teams competing in the Pro Volleyball League (PVL). The coach believes PVL could help Indian youngsters gain vital experience. “They are trying to run a professional league. We have a young team and it is a good learning experience for them. Because of the new rules like a 15-point set and the super point, the players have to be prepared to react quickly. Preparing them mentally is vital,” he noted.
Hawks are fourth in the table with two points. They will have to win their last game against U Mumba Volley to keep their qualification hopes alive. “We have to win and hope the other results go our way. The league has been highly competitive and the matches are close. We have an experienced player like Carson Clark and I am sure with him around, we can win the last game,” he said.
The winner of PVL will get an opportunity to participate in the Asian Club Championship. With the big picture in mind, Yadav is banking on such meets to get that much-needed exposure. “The franchises should be having the funds to send the teams to participate in the championship. It can only be good for the players,” he said.
Result: Kochi Blue Spikers bt Chennai Spartans 3-2 (12-15, 10-15, 15-11, 15-13, 15-10). Kochi qualify for playoffs.