‘Women spikers need more exposure’

Kathmandu, January 17

Women’s volleyball was introduced in the eighth South Asian Games when Nepal hosted the event in 1999 and the hosts won bronze medal in the maiden appearance.

The event did not make it in the Islamabad 2004 Games and women spikers got second chance in Colombo two years later.

Nepal again finished third, with Sipora Gurung becoming the youngest medallist at the age of 13. The women’s volleyball has been once again included in the upcoming 12th SA Games in India after Bangladeshi organisers omitted the event in the 11th edition in 2010.

The volleyball officials are excited with the women’s team after it won the silver medal in the South Asian Volleyball Championship in December 2-14 on home soil. And the players are also working hard under Iranian coach Hamid Movahedi and local coach Sudesh Rimal. Movahedi is all praise of the players. “These girls are good and they catch everything in training,” says Movahedi, who has been providing training to the team twice a day. Movahedi points out the need of frequent friendly matches against other teams for the overall development of the sport. “These players lack match experience and it will be extremely difficult for them to compete without exposure,” he says. “Nepal needs to follow other countries who manage international matches regularly.”

Coach Rimal says playing against each other does not help in the development of the players. “We have been training hard and they play against each others. But that is not enough to compete in the South Asian Games,” he says. “We won silver medal in the South Asian Championship and that success has put us under more pressure to perform in the regional games,” adds Rimal. “As we did not have proper opponent, I asked the men’s team from Nepal APF Club for a practice match against the women’s national team,” he says. “It will be a tough nut to crack in the SA Games.”

In the 12-member national team, nine are newcomers and will be making their SA Games debut. However, Rimal believes the team has the potential to win medal. “If we provide these players with enough practices matches against other teams abroad, the team can win medal in the SA Games. The only thing we lack at the moment in the exposure for the players.”

Skipper Binita Budathoki, the most experienced player of the squad, is happy with the training. “Iranian coach Movahedi has been working hard and we have improved a lot,” says Budathoki, member of the 1999 team and skipper in 2010. Manju Gurung and Kopila Uprety, members of the national team in Colombo Games, are the others players having the experience of regional games. Budathoki says the team has set a target of matching South Asian Volleyball Championship performance in the SA Games. “We are committed from our side but I think the time is short for training. We need at least one-year training for the SA Games and to develop our game. We also need friendly matches against tough teams but we ended up playing against men’s team from Nepal APF Club, which is not perfect for us,” says Budathoki. “Anyways, we will give our best and try to win medal in the regional games.”