From Kashmir to Dantewada: Meet Pro Volleyball League’s star attractions
Pro Volleyball League’s star attractions Dipesh Kumar Sinha, Saqlain Tariq and Akhin Jas speak to the Hindustan Times about how they have made it to the highest level of volleyball against all odds.Updated: Jan 19, 2019 18:18 IST
Sports in India has mostly been about cricket over the years, but the advent of leagues in other sports have helped lay a platform for the athletes to showcase their talent. After the kabaddi players and wrestlers, the time has come for the volleyball stars to shine in the limelight. The Pro Volleyball Leagues, which will have six teams, begins on February 2.
Dipesh Kumar Sinha, who will play for U Mumba Volley, said that he never thought volleyball will have a league.
“When I started playing volleyball, I never thought that this sport will have a league one day. My friends and family are excited about the tournament,” said Sinha.
Sinha, who grew up in Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh, stumbled upon a career in volleyball because of his 6 feet 6 inch height. In a place where there is a high level of Maoist violence, Sinha didn’t have too many opprtunities. But, he still found a way.
“I spent my school life in Dantewada. There was no scope there. It is a Naxalite area. However, I was selected for the volleyball school nationals because of my height. I didn’t even know how to play. That is how my career kick-started,” expressed Sinha.
Sinha’s U Mumba teammate Saqlain Tariq has fulfilled his father’s dream of playing for India and now he will be part of volleyball taking a big step through the Pro Volleyball League in India.
“My father is a volleyball coach and that’s how I started playing the sport. My father has played nationals. My father is proud of me today. He says that my son has done what I couldn’t do. I feel very happy to see my father being proud,” said Tariq.
Tariq learned to play volleyball in a place where there was a scare of bombing at any moment. He grew up in Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir, a district bound by the Line Of Control on three sides.
“I am from Poonch city, which is close to the India-Pakistan border. Our city wasn’t in much danger, but the fear of bombing was always there. It could have happened anytime, so I was a little scared of that,” added Tariq.
Chennai Spartans’ Akhin Jas and Dipesh Sinha explained that a volleyball player in Indian cannot sustain in life by just playing the sport for the country. They have to find a job other than volleyball.
“I have been playing for nine years. I work in a Bharat Petroleum refinery in Kochi. We need to first secure our life with a job. We don’t get paid as much as international cricketers,” said Jas.
Dipesh expressed that he is financially stable through a head constable job in Chhattisgarh police.
“I joined the Chattisgarh police as a constable in 2012. When anyone plays for the country then a government job is guaranteed for the athlete,” said Dipesh.
The Indian volleyball players have been virtually unknown for many years. Jas expressed happiness about the Pro Volleyball League matches slated to be shown on television.
“Everyone asks me why our sport is not on TV, so now people can watch our sport through Pro Volleyball League,” said Jas.
First Published: Jan 19, 2019 18:13 IST