The latest sport to make the step into the elite league is volleyball. The inaugural season of the Pro Kabaddi League gets underway on Saturday, February 2.
The league will see six teams taking part in the event – Ahmedabad Defenders, Calicut Heroes, Chennai Spartans, Black Hawks Hyderabad, Kochi Blue Spikers and U Mumba Volley.
Pro-Volleyball League: Indian players hope that a culture of the sport is developed – Read
The first twelve matches will take place in the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Kochi while the remaining six matches, including the two semi finals and the final, will be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai.
|Ahmedabad Defenders||Bonhomie Sports Event Mgmt. Ltd|
|Calicut Heroes||Beacon Sports|
|Chennai Spartans||Chennai Spartans Pvt. Ltd.|
|U Mumba Volley||U Sports|
|Black Hawks Hyderabad||Agile Entertainment Pvt. Ltd|
|Kochi Blue Spikers||Thomas Muthoot|
Spikers will be taking on U Mumba Volley in the first match of the league. The final will be played on February 22 in Chennai. A total of 18 matches will be played with each team playing against all the others in a round-robin format. The 18 matches are divided in two legs to be held in two cities – Kochi and Chennai. The top four teams move to the semi-finals. Each team will have 12 players in their squad and have the provision of a maximum of two reserve players.
The teams were picked through a player draft system, and were divided into four categories: International Icons, Indian Icons, senior Indian Internationals, Nationals and U-21 players. The Indian, players, though, were selected through an auction while the foreign players through a draft pick.
READ: Latest entry in an expanding list, Pro Volleyball League needs a steady start more than a smash hit
Costliest auction pick
When Ranjit Singh took up volleyball as his preferred sport at the Jalandhar sports hostel, his only aim was to join the Indian Army like his brother. Neither him nor his family ever thought of top level competition or playing for India. Even the financial help they looked forward to was the salary he would be getting from his “department”.
But in less than six years, Ranjit has not only played for India but also captained the national team. Financially, he can now boast of becoming the costliest player at the Pro Volleyball League auction.
Read more about him here.
Paul Lotman (USA) – Calicut Heroes
The American outside hitter is the icon player of Calicut Heroes. After a trophy-laden spell in Poland, Lotman moved to Germany, where he played for the Berlin Recycling Volleys for three years. He has also represented USA in the Olympics. The high point of his career, though, would be winning the World Cup in 2015. The 33-year-old also has a gold from the World League.
Rudy Verhoff (Canada) – Chennai Spartans
Verhoff, like Lotman has also played in the Olympics and bagged a gold in the North American Championships. The 29-year-old will be representing the Spartans and has played in France and Germany, before making the move to India this year.
Carson Clark (USA) – Black Hawks Hyderabad
Hyderabad’s icon player is Clark, another American who comes with wealthy international experience, having plied his trade in France and Poland. Clark, like Verhoff also plays as an opposite.
David Lee (USA) – Kochi Blue Spikers
Lee is one of the greats of the game, having helped USA win Olympic gold in Beijing 2008 and followed that with a bronze in Rio de Janerio three years ago. Lee was also a part of USA’s World Cup-winning team in 2015. A journeyman from the start of his career, the 36-year-old has played in France, Italy, Turkey, China, Greece, Russia, and recently, Argentina. Lee plays as a middle blocker.
Tomislav Coskovic (Turkey) – U Mumba Volley
The Bosnia-born outside hitter, at 39, is one of the senior-most players in the division. The outside hitter has been playing in Turkey for the past 12 years and is now eligible to represent the country.
Novica Bjelica (Serbia) – Serbia
Bjelica has also played in the Olympics and has been one of the most pivotal figures of Serbia in the past decade. The middle blocker, who has played across the world, was instrumental in Serbia winning their first medal in a World Cup, the volleyball World League, and the European Championships.