There is no particular definition for a movement that is characterised and developed on the lines of sport. How often does one hear of sports that take over districts and are community driven? In a country where cricket and football are so often played on the streets and gullies, there needs to be a major change or revolution to bring about other forms of regularly contested sport to the forefront.
In a general sense, bringing a community together is a big task especially in areas that might not see as much development or economic sustenance. There are a few regions in India that have had the pleasure of witnessing and being a part of such a movement. One such revolution is currently underway in Assam, with volleyball having won the hearts and minds of children, adults, and several village communities over the past several months.
Led by a former National Captain, this could be the grassroots movement for a sport that has so often been side-lined in India.
Abhijit Bhattacharya has brought about a sport revolution that is set to stay for years to come. The Under 16 Brahmaputra Volleyball League (BVL) is his brainchild and with the aim of covering about 16 districts and playing over 3 months, 144 matches will be played between 50 teams made up of boys and girls separately. The aim of this tournament, apart from spreading the love of volleyball is to also incorporate and inculcate a platform for poor children to work and lead better lives. One such observation was made by a former state level player named Zakir Hussain. He told Times of India, that the change in the daily lives of children is evident with the days of chewing “idly chewing gutka and betel nuts” long gone. This has been replaced by regular practice sessions, the determination to win for their village and the excitement of playing a sport on a daily basis.
Abhijit Bhattacharya was the captain of the National Team in 2003 and 2005. He has won several medals and represented India in multiple competitions over his career. However, this initiative is something that makes him give back to society in a way unlike any other. The belief that he has in the young boys and girls who make their way for practice every day is something that will reap major rewards in the future.
Brahmaputra Volleyball League
The impact that the BVL has already had on the players and the villages is absolutely stunning. Another founder named Utpal Nath was had told the publication, “We deal with really poor children. I still remember a boy from a village in Sonitpur district who used ot come for practice wearing old, oversized pants, held around his waist by a string. The kid has now bagged a job in the police force, all thanks to the game” Such heart rending stories could have had several different endings. For all everyone knows, the same kid could have been still struggling to make ends meet. But now he has a safe job, secure livelihood and more importantly has a future set all due to a local sporting initiative.
Another initiative which he has begun is the Assam Volleyball Mission which looks into providing every village with 100 volleyballs for practice and playing. The final aim is to set up around 100 coaching centres in the state itself. With a solid start in the form of the BVL, both these targets are achievable in the long run. The sponsorships are mostly crowdfunded with individuals paying for teams and villages contributing with hospitality and travel expenses as well. The beauty of such an event is that everyone is involved alongside the players in making the tournament a grand success. This has in turn inspired the children to compete at higher levels with several wishing to be national and international champions of the sport.
The belief and the desire to initiate such tournaments is also the same willpower that will keep them going for years to come. Individuals like Abhijit Bhattacharya are inspirations not just in Assam but for the whole country as well. There is a lot to learn from such people who aim to make great strides in their own community. There is no discrimination or ulterior motives that give this tournament its name. It is just a simple passion to play on. And whether it be volleyball or any other sport in the country, time will surely tell us that perseverance pays off.