Coach’s hat comes with more pressure, says former volleyball international Joseph

Tom Joseph had planned to start an academy in his home district Kozhikode. Now that he’s employed in Kochi, he wants to start the academy there.

Tom Joseph had planned to start a volleyball academy after his playing career ended and two years ago, he did his FIVB level-1 coaching course in Chennai.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

He has dominated the national volleyball scene for more than 15 years with his fine attacking play. But when Tom Joseph changed roles from player to coach six months ago, he realised that his new hat came with a lot of pressure.

“A coach’s job is tougher. When you play, at the start there is some tension. But when you are a coach, you have to worry over every rally. There is a lot to handle. There is more pressure,” said Joseph, one of the country's best players ever and currently the coach of the BPCL team, in a chat with Sportstar.

Having played with them for many years, Joseph knows his players well. That helps him fit in comfortably in his new role. “It’s an advantage. We know each other well. We are friendly with each other, too. So they are quite eager to work with me,” said the 40-year-old former international, an assistant manager with BPCL, Kochi.

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Joseph had planned to start a volleyball academy after his playing career ended and two years ago, he did his FIVB level-1 coaching course in Chennai.

“I had planned to start a volleyball academy and teach the sport to youngsters in Kozhikode, my home district. But after finishing the course, I became the coach of the BPCL team. Now that I’m employed in Kochi, I want to start an academy in Kochi, probably at the Regional Sports Centre (RSC),” said the Arjuna awardee.

With India team stars like Jerome Vinith, G. S. Akhin, Ajithlal and A. Muthuswamy in the BPCL team, Joseph believes he has a squad to get back to winning national trophies.

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“But we are short in numbers. We are just eight. We need to have 12 players. A strong bench will help our team in a big way. I hope a few more players are recruited,” said Joseph.

“That was the big turning point in my life. A year later, I joined the BPCL team and we won a number of trophies including the Federation Cup and National League,” he said.

But Joseph is disappointed that volleyball is going down all over the country.

“Teams like ONGC, Railways, HSIIDC and IOB which dominated national volleyball are struggling because there is not much recruitment happening the last few years,” said Joseph.

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“But the number of tournaments have come down in a big way even in Kerala. We used to have some 10 state-level and around five all-India tournaments a few years ago. Last year, we just had two all-Kerala tournaments and one all-India event.”

“Earlier, we used to have a lot players coming from the villages. They had a lot of courts, but now these have been removed and buildings have come up there. Volleyball used to be a big pastime for children in villages earlier. That’s not the case now. The mobile phone is the big attraction these days.”