Prime Volleyball League is for money, Indian Volleyball League is for passion: Ramavtar Jakhar
Ramavtar Singh Jakhar tells The Bridge that Volleyball Federation of India will not recognise Prime Volleyball League.
The Indian Volleyball is in an appalling state, or as can be inferred from the national team's world rankings. While the men's senior team is ranked 79th in the world, the women are ranked 48th. Moreover the ninth-placed finish at the recently concluded Asian Championships in Chiba, Japan is a further testament to how much India needs to improve to be able to compete with the best in the world.
Amidst this gloom, one sensed a shining light when a six-team franchise-based tournament, Prime Volleyball League, was announced a couple of days ago. While fans would have expected this to be a welcome move, what is anything in India without a controversy?
Just after the PVL was announced, the former General Secretary of Volleyball Federation of India (VFI) and a member of the Asian Volleyball Confederation's (AVC) finance committee, Ramavtar Singh Jakhar said that VFI will not recognise PVL or help it in any form.
"The VFI President Achyuta Samanta and Secretary Anil Choudhary are clear on their part that the Prime Volleyball League will not be recognised. Instead, the Indian Volleyball League (IVL) will be held in the month of January-February 2022. I am the chairperson of IVL, and I can assure you this," Jakhar said to The Bridge.
"We are in it due to our passion"
The former India star is convinced that the Prime Volleyball League will not be able to survive without the recognition of the governing body.
"We have had examples in the past. Did the Indian Cricket League survive without support from BCCI? Take the example of the European Super League, what happened to it?" Jakhar asks.
'Transparent' is a word Jakhar uses frequently during the short conversation.
"Everything related to the IVL will be transparent. All the details will be out in the media as and when it happens. We want to see volleyball develop in India as much as you, and I realise it is important to be transparent to the public," Jakhar states.
The 51-year-old maintains that a lot of players have already signed up for the IVL.
"Almost all the top players, including the ones who played at the Asian Championships, have already signed up with the IVL, and the league will surely hit the floor early next year."
Jakhar asserts that private players will come and go, but the federation would stay forever.
"See, we all know how private leagues function. There might be money but it is uncertain. They are in this for the money, while we are in it due to our love for volleyball," he says.
What is to be noted here is the fact that the VFI in association with Baseline Ventures had organised one season of volleyball league called Pro Volleyball League, before ditching them for an apparent breach of contract.
"It was decided to issue amicably settlement/ termination notice to Baseline Ventures India Pvt Ltd. with immediate effect since they have breached the agreement," VFI had said following an Annual General Meeting.
However, Baseline had then won arbitration in the Madaras High Court with VFI been directed to pay INR 4.5 crore to the organisation after the court found no breach of agreement.
The newly announced Prime Volleyball League is also marketed by Baseline Ventures - one of India's top sports marketing companies.
It now remains to be seen whether both the Indian Volleyball League and Prime Volleyball League would co-exist in the country, or the dispute would adversely affect the development of the sport in India.