Volleyball aiming to earn rankingsBuoyed by the performance in last two editions of the AVC Central Zone Volleyball Championship, Nepal will aim to earn rankings as the men’s volleyball team returns to the Asian Games after an absence of more than three decades.
Buoyed by the performance in last two editions of the AVC Central Zone Volleyball Championship, Nepal will aim to earn rankings as the men’s volleyball team returns to the Asian Games after an absence of more than three decades.
Nepal had secured third place finish in Maldives in the third edition of Central Zone Championship in March, 2017 and reached the semi-finals in the next edition in Bangladesh in April this year. The third-place finish in Maldives was Nepal’s first ever bronze medal in international volleyball. Although winning a medal remains a far cry for Nepal in the Asian Games, the coaches and players are setting their eyes to get themselves listed in the world rankings.
Nepal are non-ranked team and a participation at any Asian level event would require them to have
rankings. The last time Nepal volleyball team had participated in the Asia Games was during 1986 Korea Games.
The team is currently undergoing closed-camp training in Mahendranagar for the regional meet to be held from August 18 to September 2. Along with volleyball, kabaddi players and wrestlers are also in the same city from Farwest for closed-camp training.
Nepal’s inclusion in the Asian Games after long absence comes at a time when volleyball now boasts itself as a national sport of the country. A double delight has helped rejuvenate the spikers.
“We are in a good form for a couple of years. We want to reach the second round in the tournament and hopefully that helps us fetch ranking,” said skipper Im Bahadur Rana Magar.
A total of 16 players are undergoing training at the Mahendranagar covered hall for the last three months. National team head coach Jagdish Bhatta along with Dutch coaches Lesley Dejonge and Damir Coco are providing six-hour training a day. “We are aiming be get inside top 15 in the Asian rankings and everyone in the team is excited after we were included in the Asian Games after 32 years,” said coach Bhatta who is mourning his father’s death for the last six days. The Dutch coaches are taking care of the team in his absence.
Coach Bhatta and captain Rana Magar, however, lamented on not getting practice matches and trainings abroad. “We were earlier told that we would be visiting Thailand and India for practice matches and preparations but that didn’t happen. Not getting practice matches ahead of this big event has obviously affected our preparations,” said Rana Magar.
The kabaddi team is also expecting to give their best in the Asian Games. Nepal played four practice matches in New Delhi and another one in Mahenadranagar. The 14-member Nepali team has been in Mahendranagar training camp for the last three months. “We had earlier planned to go to India for training and play practice matches,” said chief coach Tara Bhat. “Though we failed to get training abroad, we called foreign teams to here and played practice matches.”
Bhat also expressed satisfaction over the training and enthusiasm showed by the players. Kabaddi team is also participating in the Asian Games after two decades. Nepal had secured second-place finish in the International Invitation Kabaddi Tournament last year in Kathmandu. They settled with bronze during the 2010 South Asian Games in Bangladesh. “We are excited to participate in the Asian Games after more than two decades and give our best,” said captain Mahesh Bohara.
Wrestler Saroj Yadav, the bronze medallist of the 2016 South Asian Games, has set his sights on a medal. “This is the best training we have had so far. I am hopeful of earning at least a medal in Indonesia,” said Yadav. But unlike Saroj, coach Khagendra Bahadur Basnet casts doubt in winning a medal. “Though the preparation is going really well, we still have problems in getting proper training venue, resources and
practice matches abroad,” said Basnet.
Three wrestlers including Bhagawat Shah (57kg), Saroj (65kg) and Suresh Chunara (74kg) are representing Nepal in the Asian Games. Nepal are fielding 185 players from 29 different sports disciplines in the Asian Games to be held in Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia.