Brahmaputra League - Promoted by Olympic athletes, Volleyball gets a grassroots boost

The motto of the league is to promote volleyball in remote areas across Assam

By Samrat Chakraborty ·

In a bid to identify talented players at the grassroots level, a unique Brahmaputra Volleyball League has been set up in India, under the initiative of Assam Volleyball Mission 100.

The motto of the league is to promote volleyball in remote areas across Assam. It is also for the first time such an initiative has been taken to promote the sport in the country and unearth raw talents who can then be moulded into future stars.

Who are the promoters?

The league is the brainchild of former Indian volleyball captain Abhijeet Bhattacharya. He started playing volleyball in 1988 and then went on to lead the national team from 2003 to 2005.

Ever since his retirement, Bhattacharya continues to remain associated with the sport and does his bit to promote it wherever possible. He has quite a busy volleyball academy in Tezpur, where youngsters across Assam, come in numbers to train under him. But the novel coronavirus pandemic had disrupted the scenario and brought the routine training sessions to a standstill.

However, at this point in time, he has started with the ‘Abhijeet Bhattacharya’s Virtual Volleyball Academy’, where at least 30 children from three tea gardens across Assam learned the early ropes of the sport from him.

Ace Indian sprinter Hima Das, who hails from Dhing in Assam, is promoting the league and unveiled its logo.

"Really happy to unveil the logo of Brahmaputra Volleyball League, a first of its kind initiative to promote sports at grassroots level in my home state Assam. The logo with the girl spiking the ball across the Brahmaputra Valley gives a loud, clear and positive message," she tweeted.

Das, the national record holder in the 400 meters, is still to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. She is the first Indian athlete to win a gold medal in a track event at the IAAF World U20 Championships, at Tampere in 2018. Hima also won two gold medals (in relay events) and a silver (400m) at the 2018 Asian Games.

Former Badminton star and Olympian Aparna Popat, Arjuna Award-winning Table Tennis star Monalisa Barua Mehta and former International badminton player Asawari Parmar are also promoting the event.

When will the league start?

The Brahmaputra League is set to get underway from December 13 at the Barbari High School (BHS), Nalbari. It will stretch for three months.

The league will be spread across 16 different districts involving 32 boys’ and 17 girls’ teams, competing for total prize money of Rs 2 lakh.

How many matches will be played?

The league will consist of 144 matches which will be played in the villages of Assam. What is interesting is that it is probably the first time that a grassroots league with this many matches has been organised.

The Indian men’s national volleyball team failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics after losing in the Asian qualifiers earlier this year.