Handball is a sport that hasn’t made waves in India. In an attempt to attract audience and make the sport popular among the masses, the inaugural edition of the Premier Handball League (PHL) 2023 is all set to kickstart at the Sawai Mansingh Indoor Stadium in Jaipur.
Six teams - Rajasthan Patriots, Delhi Panzers, Garvit Gujarat, Telugu Talons, Golden Eagles Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra Ironmen will take part in the league that will be played in the round-robin format followed by three knock-outs en route to the final. Each squad will have 17 players including 14 Indians and three foreigners.
Shubham Sheoran, appointed as the captain of the Talons, is confident of a successful season and aware of the responsibilities that come with the captain’s armband.
“I am confident to carry the responsibilities of the captain and my job is to create a good atmosphere within the team. Each and every member of the team is important and we are confident of doing well in the inaugural season,” Shubham told Sportstar.
Hailing from Haryana, the left-back has a wealth of international experience having represented India at various meets and achieving success.
“I started playing handball from 2012 when I was in 11th grade and then I got selected at the National Academy which is located in Bhilai. I find the sport very interesting and one requires a lot of agility and stamina. It’s quick, fast and there is a lot of adrenaline rush. I urge youngsters to take up the sport,” the newly-appointed captain said.
From humble beginnings to donning the India jersey, Shubham suffered setbacks including a career threatening knee injury.
“There were a lot of ups and downs, there is no proper infrastructure and we don’t even have facilities to hone our skills. I didn’t lose hope as after coming back from the academy, I trained in Haryana but suffered a serious knee injury. It was a huge setback but I recovered, trained well and was hungry to represent India. My dream finally came true and I kept playing tournaments.”
The India success landed Shubham a job with the Border Security Force (BSF), an ‘important moment’ in the handball player’s life.
“With the sport not being recognised so much, I needed a job and I am grateful to the BSF for giving an opportunity to be with the unit. They encouraged me to keep playing and that was an important moment in my life,” said the captain who is now employed as a TTE (Train Ticket Examiner) with the Northern Railways.
With a secured job, Shubham’s focus is now to start the tournament on a winning note when his side takes on Gujarat on June 8.
“To win the tournament we need to start well and not look too far ahead,” the 26-year-old said, before adding that he doesn’t want to put ‘pressure on his players.’
When asked if the league will gain popularity, he said, “It’s a very interesting game and I am confident slowly it will have it’s own fan base. I feel PHL will slowly attain success like how PKL and PVL did.”
Coach Fernando Nues termed Shubham as a ‘very good communicator’ and Talons will hope its captain leads from the front in pursuit for a maiden PHL title.
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