At the maiden Premier Volleyball League’s (PVL) auction last month, Indian team’s setter Ranjit Singh emerged as the top choice, fetching a price of Rs 13 lakh. Quite a stroke of fortune for someone who had almost quit the game.
Beginning with local games and rising to play the national team in the 2018 Asian Games, Ranjit has had quite the journey. In an exclusive conversation with Sportswallah, he narrated, “My father passed away in 2017. He was very happy with my sport and I wish I could’ve told him that I am the highest paid player. I was extremely disturbed for a few months after his passing, to the extent of wanting to quit the game. And I almost did!”
But just then PVL happened and it gave him a ray of hope. “It pushed me mentally to continue playing more. My family has been extremely supportive of me after my father’s death. They have insisted that I don’t worry about them and instead, focus on my game,” said the athlete.
Local lad wins big
For Ranjit, the story with volleyball began when he was a school-going lad at Tarn Taran, Punjab. Taking us through his story, he said, “I started playing volleyball when I was in grade 5. The boys in my village, including my elder brother, used to play volleyball and I would join them. Gradually, we started playing in local matches and tournaments, and receiving small amounts of money. Both of us represented the village team.”
That was crucial for the brothers, as it contributed to their personal and household income. What also served as motivation to continue playing well were the high chances of scoring a job because of his playing abilities. And that did happen – he played with ONGC, Dehradun for nearly nine years, and currently plays for the Punjab Police team. “As a player from a tiny village to reach this achievement, I’ve had to work immensely hard. But when I am not playing any matches, I spend maximum time with my family, especially my mother,” he added.
Shot in the arm
For Ranjit, whose favourite player is Brazilian Giba, the upcoming PVL has changed life for the better. “Besides the obvious monetary gain, I know I have to play better now – not just for the League, for the nation too. Especially since my home team Ahmedabad Defenders has shown this much trust in me,” he said.
PVL has served as a much needed shot in the arm to the sport in the country. Ranjit said he’s inundated with questions from volleyball enthusiasts. Queries range from how to train properly, how to improve their game and how can they join the league to which are the best volleyball academies. “Thanks to VPL, there’s a hopeful craze and motivation for the game among players. Especially among villages and smaller centres – and not just the youth, even kids playing at the school level are more enthusiastic about the sport,” Ranjit said.