Having A Ball
Avanindra Mishra | Updated: Dec 16, 2017, 03:39 AM IST, DNA
Even before they have taken to the field to ply their trade, the women athletes of para-volleyball have stamped their victory against the taboos they have been fighting since long. These fearless women have touched down in the city to play interstate sitting para-volleyball federation cup that will commence on December 16 at SMS Stadium.
To everyone’s awe, these women have defeated physical challenges as well as social stigma to rise above self pity in an attempt to become the first to represent the nation at the International Paralympic games 2018. It is for the first time that a women’s team will be playing at the national level tournament.
“Shy of exposing themselves and the challenges that came along kept many girls away from taking up para sports,” said H Chandrashekar, president Paralympic Volleyball Federation of India (PVFI).
“It has been for a decade that we at the federation have been trying to build a national women’s team. This task will thankfully get accomplished this year,” he added. The federation has recently added a trained 8 women’s team across the country, six of these will play their first national level tournament in Jaipur over next couple of days.
“We have held demo games in several states to set an example and motivate more girls to take up sports,” said a member of a women’s team.
The teams from Telengana, Kerala, Bihar, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan will participate in the tournament supported by BMVSS (Jaipur Foot) organisation. These girls are motivated to play at Paralympic 2018.
Moreover, sitting volleyball is a regular paralympic event since 1980s. Played with a lower net and smaller court, this game requires players to be seated at a particular position. In India, the sport has been officially been recognised for over a decade. Its for the first time that such national level tournament of the game is being held in Jaipur.
In course of deciding the winners’ award, the organisers were faced with the gender disparity. An initial proposal regarding the award money had differences in awards for men and women achievers. This, however, came to notice of the tournament’s local partner BVMSS and it was resolved. “Sports dissolve differences and thus it is only right that we should not discriminate on the basis of gender while awarding the achievement,” said Deependra Mehta, secretary BMVSS. The federation admitted that it was due to fund concern that the difference was proposed, but was delighted that it got noticed on time.
Raj’s tryst with the sport
The game has been catching up among able-bodied athletes of Rajasthan. The state has delivered couple of national and international level players, like Kaptan Singh and Papu Singh. The men’s team had emerged as a runner-up in the last National Para-Volleyball tournament and had qualified in the quarter-finals the previous year. The state got its first women’s team registered in beginning of this year.
Jaipur Foot to the rescue of players
The Paralympic tournament organisers have to face the challenge of attracting big and fancy sponsors and that is why it often lacks proper facilities. The Sitting Volleyball Cup in Jaipur though has found support from the Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayta Samiti (BMVSS). “Our aim is to help in rehabilitation of people challenged by physical disabilities,” said Dr DR Mehta, chairperson of BMVSS. Also, it was BMVSS that volunteered to be a sponsor. Introduced to the game by an para volleyball player from Rajasthan, the BMVSS chairman was impressed with the enthusiasm of the players. Moreover, 12 men and 6 women teams will take part in the event. This year the winners will also be given a cash award.
Journey of Indian Sitting Volleyball
- It was in 2006 that the PVFI came in formal existence and since has been able to develop associations in 15 states. The PVFI team have participated in Asia Cup held by Para Volleyball Asian Oceania.
- Participated in Para Volleyball World Cup at Cambodia 2008, 2009 & 2011
- Took part in Para Volleyball World C’ship 2010-11 in USA
- Won silver medal in Beach Volleyball 2011 held at Germany