Prime Volleyball League aims to be a trailblazer for leagues in India

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The Prime Volleyball League is attempting to do something which could well be a trailblazing moment for sports leagues in India.

Bankrolled by Baseline Ventures, the league starting from February 5 in Hyderabad will be run without the involvement of the Volleyball Federation of India (VFI).

Unlike the now-defunct Pro Volleyball League in 2019, where Baseline Ventures and VFI had joined hands, the Prime Volleyball League will see the team owners have a say in the league’s running.

“I think it is a way forward for sporting leagues in our country because what we strongly feel is that for any league to be successful, we need to have the team owners to also have a stake in the league. That’s the beauty of this league, that the seven team owners have a stake and are responsible for the running of the league as well, apart from running their own teams,” says Tuhin Mishra, co-founder & managing director of Baseline Ventures to IANS.

Mishra cites the highly successful NBA, MLS and EPL as inspirations for the rechristened PVL model. “We saw that for the leagues to be successful in the long run, we need to have the team owners or guys organising it have a stake in the league. The clubs are really involved in running of the league and that’s why these leagues have sustained over a period of time and are so successful.”

He also feels the PVL model could be replicated in other sporting leagues in India. “The teams have a complete say in the running of it and they also decide who the CEO of the league should be. We need certain accountability and need a way the system needs to work, which is probably required in India as well. That is one of the firsts we are doing with the Prime Volleyball League in the country now and could be way forward for other non-cricket leagues in the country.”

The Prime Volleyball League has seven teams: Ahmedabad Defenders, Bengaluru Torpedoes, Calicut Heroes, Chennai Blitz, Hyderabad Black Hawks, Kochi Blue Spikers, and the Kolkata Thunderbolts. Each team has a 14-player squad, with two slots kept for foreign players. Mishra is confident of PVL helping in the development of volleyball in India on and off the field.

“It gives a platform to the volleyball players to think of volleyball as a sport where they can make a living out of it in a much better way than what they have been used to till now. We have seen the players speaking so enthusiastically about it because they are now playing at a level where they are interacting with top global players, as every team has two foreign players. So, they get a chance to rub shoulders with the best in the world. Our Indian boys get a chance to improve their own skills.”

Mishra assured the women’s edition of the Prime Volleyball League will happen in future once the men’s edition is settled. “The women’s volleyball is equally popular as well. Volleyball is one of the biggest team sports played in the world and is the second biggest after football. Women’s volleyball is equally, I would say, appreciated. Surely, down the line, we do plan to have the women’s section as well. That is surely going to happen. What we want to do is, start with the men’s one and try to establish it for the first one or two years and then bring women’s section as well, which will be the women’s league within the same umbrella.”

The Prime Volleyball League 2022 will be aired from February 5.

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