Hailing from Dantewada, a district in Chhattisgarh usually inflicted by the Naxal violence, a volleyball luminary – Dipesh Kumar Sinha – rose to prosperity, setting an illustration of how to get going against the odds. They say “what is meant to be will always find its way” and this remains the silver lining of the 24-year-old’s career.
His first taste of volleyball came during his school tenure. He explains, “volleyball, initially, was an alien sport to me. The region I come from is usually associated with a high level of Maoist violence and the security there is strict. So strict that we were asked to reach home before 8.”
Given the advantage of having a towering stature, though, he was selected to represent his school Saraswati Shishu Mandir on a district level. “I was a complete rookie, but having this benefit of good height was enough for me to land a place in the team,” said Dipesh over a telephonic conversation. Progressing through the ranks, it was at this point when his career was about to take a leap.
A diamond well crafted
He was representing his school Vidya Bharti in Gwalior and it was then when he was spotted by coach Surendra Pal Singh, under whom Dipesh would go on to train in Bhilai. “Singh sir gave me a proper direction. He told me to complete my 12th and then I moved to Bhilai for my training.”
Moving away, though, was never going to be an easy ride for Dipesh. It was the first time he had moved out of his home town, hence the feeling of being left-out amongst the social circle was obvious.“I wanted to go back, but Singh sir stood by my side throughout. It was a tough time for me, as I couldn’t focus on training. But Singh sir wanted to get the best out of me,” explained Dipesh.
Dipesh, who plays as blacker, credits Singh for his success. Apart from getting a perfect training, his parents – who are both in the police force – remained his pillars inside out. He says the only thing they wanted from him was to stay focused and stay disciplined.
The major breakthrough in Dipesh’s career came in 2009 when he was representing the junior team of Chhattisgarh in Karnataka. There he caught the oracle eyes of a renowned volleyball coach, GE Sridharan. Sridharan, who coached the Indian women volleyball team at the 2018 Asian Game, asked Dipesh to join his academy in Coimbatore. The blocker was crafted to perfection by Sridharan from 2010 to 2013 and the only way was up since.
In his first year under Sridharan, Dipesh represented India at the 2010 Asian Championship where India finished fourth.
The 24-year-old would go on to represent India at several Youth Championships. Although the medals were far from their reach, the foundation was laid. “Between 2013 to 2015, I was getting a decent exposure which culminated in a senior team call-up,” said Dipesh, who also serves the Police force as a head constable in Raipur. In 2015 he was the part of the senior team at the Asian Championship.
Dipesh remains an inspiration in his hometown Dantewada. It was his success which led to the locals gaining an interest in volleyball and he is absolutely proud of it. And as far as the Pro Volleyball League goes, his exploits over the years earned him a well-deserved move to U Mumba Volley for a whopping 9 lakhs.