Volleyball’s rising popularity
Not too long ago volleyball was out of everyone's sight due to its irregular domestic competitions and failure at international level, but change in leadership and international success has seemingly given Bangladesh's volleyball a new boost in recent past.
Changes in the sport over the last five years have seen the national team get success at international level on the back of long-term training at home and aboard while domestic competitions are being held regularly.
The popularity of volleyball is back at rural areas with lots of invitational tournaments being held in localities, and incredibly, national players on an average earn Tk 15 lakh to Tk 20 lakh each per season, an amount similar to what a mid-level footballer gets from his club in a season.
"I used to earn approximately Tk 2.5 lakh earlier by only playing competitions organised by Bangladesh Volleyball Federation (BVF) but the amount has risen to Tk 20 lakh to Tk 25 per season since 2018 because I have been playing a lot of local tournaments across the country. I played 20 matches in Tangail and overall 35 matches from December last year to January this year," national team's captain Horosit Biswas told The Daily Star adding that he takes Tk 30,000 for playing a match organsied privately.
The national team captain also explained the reasons behind the increase of popularity of the sport after a long time.
"There was no regular training for the national team until Atiqul Islam sir [mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation] was appointed president of Bangladesh Volleyball Federation in 2014. Since then we are getting regular training at home and even in foreign countries such as Iran, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. We also succeeded in a few international competitions, so the spectators are coming back to enjoy volleyball," said the captain.
In 2015, BVF organised Asian Senior Men's Central Zone International Volleyball Championship with seven nations and got opportunities to play opponents beyond South Asia. Bangladesh emerged runners-up in that tournament to draw attention of media, which also gave a good coverage in 2016 when the men in red and green clinched the title of the same championships under the guidance of an Iranian coach.
"Popularity has increased significantly, especially in rural areas. I was astonished to see the amount of spectators in a tournament in Bhaluka, Mymensingh where eight of our players were given Tk 3 lakh each for playing one match," said Horosit, who missed the Bangladesh Games as his team, Power Development Board (PDB), withdrew with five key players testing Covid-19 positive day before the start.
"Some promising players emerged from the Bangladesh Games and they have already been roped in by some clubs but inter-district championship is also playing a great role in finding out players from the root level," said Horosit. "Earlier this year, I went to Satkhira to play an upazila-based tournament where a lot of young players participated. New players are coming out because volleyball is now played in different districts. Many players often call me to look for teams which was not the case five to six years ago."
Horosit, who is enjoys a bit of stardom in the country, believes the country's volleyball will be progressing locally and internationally if the district leagues, inter-district championship are held regularly and uninterrupted training of the national team is ensured.