Saturday, September 12, 2015

VFI may stage much-postponed Indian Volleyball League in 2016


It was with much fanfare that the Indian Volleyball League (IVL) got rolling in May 2011 at various venues with six franchise teams slugging it out with Chennai Spikers emerging champions. The IVL was seen as the best thing to have happened to Indian volleyball with the general public perception being that the sport was poised to take off to new heights across the country, creating a robust supply line to the national team. But the IVL hit a severe roadblock with the much-talked-about league postponed on more than one occasion. The second edition of the IVL was slated to be across three venues in October 2013 but the event was postponed to February 2014. The 2nd IVL did not take place in February 2014 and was again put off, leaving many uncomfortable questions about whether the league will be at all held in the near future. Four years have lapsed since the inaugural Indian Volleyball League and volleyball lovers in the country are left with one question: Will the Indian Volleyball League be ever held again?
“I’m not in a position to reveal anything. All I can say is that Indian Volleyball League won’t be held this year. But we are likely going to stage the second edition of the Indian Volleyball League in 2016,” says Volleyball Federation of India secretary-general Ramavtar Singh Jakhar, a former international player.

Jakhar, who played with distinction for the national team from 1989 to 1994, believes the response from the sponsors is encouraging. “It’s too early to talk about it but I can tell you that the response has been good. Let’s hope for the best.”

The VFI secretary general stopped short of revealing about the dates and month of the IVL in 2016. “As I have said, the IVL will be held in 2016 but can’t say whether it will be held in the first half or second half of 2016.”

Indian volleyball have been showing marked improvement in recent years, making their presence felt in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, finishing fifth. Of course, the country’s 11th place finish at the 2015 Asian Volleyball Championship in Tehran last month can be seen as an aberration as the national team comprised a largely young side. Jakhar had raised the bar of expectations for the Asiad. “I was expecting our men’s team to bag a medal in the 2014 Asiad and so our fifth place finish was disappointing. One hopes that the Indian Volleyball League is held in 2016 – that must be some good news for volleyball lovers given the great deal of uncertainty over whether the event will be held or not.

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