When Indian fans are ready to welcome the first Women’s Indian Premier League and the IPL a little later in the same month, another league of a very popular sport also tries to sparkle in the three cities- Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Kochi. Though it made a greater presence felt in southern India, the quality of the games in the league is really heartwarming for volleyball lovers across India.
Defending champion Kolkata Thunderbolts is once again looking powerful before its semifinal match against Bengaluru Torpedoes. Kolkata Thunderbolts’ co-owner Pawan Kumar Patodia says, “Kolkata Thunderbolts’ performance has been better than last year. Not just us, but all the teams have been better this year.” He adds, “We feel great to have made it to the playoffs. But in this 15-point format, with super points and super serve as factors, it is very hard to predict which team will emerge as the winners. One or two mistakes can make the whole difference. One mistake and the pressure is built. We will try our best and our morale is high. The rest we will see how the game goes.”
With a total of 31 matches being played across three cities, the league of the eight franchises – Kolkata Thunderbolts, Kochi Blue Spikers, Calicut Heroes, Hyderabad Black Hawks, Ahmedabad Defenders, Bengaluru Torpedoes, Chennai Blitz, and Mumbai Meteors – it has witnessed some wonderful, top class and exciting duels amongst the aforesaid teams.
Rohit Kumar of Haryana, who represented India in the 2018 Asian Games, became the most expensive player (Kochi Blue Spikers) of the league, bagging Rs. 17.5 lakhs. The winner of this second RuPay Prime Volleyball League powered by A23 will be richer by Rs. 40 Lakhs. Though India is ranked 68th in the FIVB world ranking, the kind of experience Indian players are getting from this tournament seems to benefit team India in the longer run.
A total number of 112 players from 10 countries, including the host India, are participating in this top-class tournament. International stars of Indian Volleyball like Ashwal Rai (Kolkata Thunderbolts), Deepesh Kumar Sinha(Kolkata Thunderbolts), Vinit Kumar (Kolkata Thunderbolts), Jerome Vinith (Calicut Heroes), Akhin G S (Chennai Blitz) and Guru Prashanth (Hyderabad Black Hawks) and Venezuelan Olympian Jose Verdi, Peru’s National team captain Eduardo Romay and Australian National team player Trent O’Dea are the shining stars of the tournament.
Its fans’ base is also enriching every season. Tuhin Mishra, co-founder of the RuPay Prime Volleyball League says, “In the second season, the first couple of weeks of data showed an almost 50% increase in viewership, indicating Indian volleyball players are getting a chance to be viewed a lot more than before. Moreover, the RuPay Prime Volleyball League feed is also being streamed internationally across all countries on Volleyball World, so players are getting global recognition.” Tuhin further adds, “Also, the winning team of RuPay Prime Volleyball League Season 2 will get a chance to play in the Volleyball World Club Championships, which will be held in India for the first time this year. It will be the first time an Indian franchise will get a chance to compete against the world’s best volleyball clubs in the world.
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