Deepesh Sinha's rise from a Naxal hotbed to a Prime Volleyball League star
“Our school was close to 10km from where we used to stay. All the kids nearby used to travel to the school in police vans," Kolkata Thunderbolts' Deepesh Sinha says.
Pursing sports as a career in India is always laced with hurdles. The lack of opportunities, systematic corruption, societal pressure, and financial conditions all play an equal part in this.
But, rising above these challenges is what sets the country’s top athletes apart from the rest.
One such shining star is Deepesh Sinha – Kolkata Thunderbolt’s middle-blocker in the Prime Volleyball League (PVL).
Sinha, 29, one of the foremost names in Indian volleyball, rose to the top from the Naxal hotbed of Dantewada, Chhattisgarh. Both of Sinha’s parents worked in the police force, making him and his family more vulnerable to Naxal attacks.
“Growing up in Dantewada, there was not a lot of scope. We had a straightforward routine – home to school and back with a bit of playtime in the evening. There was no roaming around or anything because of the obvious reasons,” Deepesh tells The Bridge.
“Our school was close to 10km from where we used to stay. All the kids nearby used to travel to the school in police vans,” he reveals.
But Deepesh has managed to put it all behind, thanks to volleyball. Having started to play the sport only because of his height, Sinha rose through the ranks and has represented India in various tournaments.
“I started to play volleyball when I was in 12th grade because the principal of our school pushed me into it due to my height back in 2017,” he says.
But this came at the cost of his budding basketball career.
“I used to play basketball because my mother was a national level player. But, compared to volleyball there was a lot of running involved in and so I decided to stick to volleyball,” he chuckles.
Deepesh, however, was not much interested in sports. For him, it was only a way to settle in his life.
“I was not very good in studies, so just thought I might well give sports a shot to settle in life. I played volleyball for almost a year before I actually started enjoying it,” he reveals.
Fast forward to 2023, thanks to his exploits in volleyball, Deepesh Sinha, much like his parents, is employed by the police department.
“When I am not playing or training volleyball, I dabble as an assistant sub-inspector with Raipur police. The department has been very kind to me, letting me train and play the sport as much as I want without focusing much on duty,” he says.
Sinha was a platinum category player in the inaugural edition of PVL, but had fallen down to silver ahead of second edition’s player auctions.
“These things keep happening in sports. An athlete’s career graph can never always be at the peak. I am working my way up,” he asserts.