Gujarat women won their maiden crown at the 24th Yuva National Volleyball Championship in Sangli, Maharashtra. The finals on Sunday, saw Gujju girls beat reigning champs Kerala 25-21, 25-19, 25-20.
The victory comes gilded given that Kerala have lifted the cup 16-times and finished as runners-up five times. Home state Gujarat just about secured a runners-up spot once.
The team was led by captain Sandhya Rathod. Lauding the victory, Gujarat State Volleyball Association secretary, Kamlesh Patel, stated: “The girls have worked very hard. In particular, we value the contributions made by Nipa, Manisha, Anisha and Sandhya. We are of you all!”
Team members also included Manisha Zala, Isha Jain, Anisha Chaudhury, Neha Prajapati, Nipa Barad, Priyanka Zala, Disha Vala, Devubala Chauda, Usha Vala, Mahek Pandey and Nirali Vala. Manish and Nipa netted 13 points each while Anisha brought in 12 points. Captain Sandhya notched five points.
In fact, in celebratory mode, the team and coaches burst into an impromptu garba on court. A 23-second video of the same was shared by state sports minister Harsh Sanghvi.
The small village of Sarakhadi in Kodinar block of Gir-Somnath district is slowly but surely nurturing volleyball as a competitive sport. Enter the dusty town and nets across paved and rough land are a common sight. Little wonder then that nearly half of the Gujarat women’s volleyball team players hail from the region. While six players were from Sarkhadi, one came from Sindhaj village.