India U19 boys' volleyball team climbs 35 ranking places after Tehran world championship

In the 17th edition of the tournament held in Tehran from August 24 to September 2, the unfancied side beat a few higher-ranked teams, giving the head coach, Pritam Singh Chauhan, reasons to be upbeat going ahead. 

India's under-19 volleyball players made the most of a wild card entry to finish 10th in the FIVB Volleyball Boys' U19 World Championship.   -  Special Arrangement

India's under-19 volleyball players made the most of a wild card entry, overcame a lack of international exposure and adequate preparation to finish 10th in the FIVB Volleyball Boys' U19 World Championship. India had last participated in the tournament in 2009 and finished seventh.

In the 17th edition of the tournament held in Tehran from August 24 to September 2, the unfancied side beat a few higher-ranked teams, giving the head coach, Pritam Singh Chauhan, reasons to be upbeat going ahead.

"India was ranked 49 in the world in the U-19 category [heading into the tournament]. We finished 10th, so that shows good performance,” said Chauhan. Of the 20 teams scheduled to participate in the event, two withdrew.

Chauhan said the team had only a four-week training camp, and the players had no international match exposure. “Four weeks of training for a world championship is not enough. Also, this is the first time the boys participated in a competition abroad."

Asian Volleyball Championship: India men's team head coach confident of reaching semifinal  

He focused on the positives of the campaign. “Despite that [limited training], our libero Venu Chikkanna was adjudged the second-best receiver in the world championship. He missed first place by just one point. Tanish Choudhary was adjudged sixth-best attacker, and our captain Sameer Chaudhary was adjudged seventh-best setter."

India upset higher-ranked Egypt (4th), Nigeria (9th), and Cuba (18th) while losing to Iran, Poland, Brazil and the Czech Republic. Poland lifted the U19 World Championship trophy.

India's performance saw it improve 35 places on the ranking table to reach 14th.

The performance came amid uncertainty, including confusion regarding the team selection after India was suddenly given a chance to participate. Only the top four countries at the U19 Asian championship are eligible to take part in the world championship. While the Asian championship scheduled in 2020 did not take place due to COVID-19, a few eligible countries backed out due to the pandemic, giving India a wild card entry.

Chauhan, who took a team to a World Championship as a coach for the third time, said these circumstances meant the team could not be selected via the national championship. The selection trials were conducted by the Volleyball Federation of India in Bhubaneswar.

World U-19 Volleyball: India loses to Iran  

Then, there were passport woes. "Some good players who participated in the selection trials did not have their passport. It was not possible to take them because we had to send the list of the players to the organiser and the international federation the same day. There was no time to wait for passports,” said Chauhan.

Chauhan, who has managed three medal-winning teams — 2002 Asian Junior Men's Volleyball Championship silver; 2005 Asian Youth Boys Volleyball Championship bronze; and 2019 Asian Men's U23 Volleyball Championship silver — saw promise in his batch of 2021. “I did not go for very advanced training because time was short. Even then, they learnt very quickly and worked hard. I am happy to say that they are the future of Indian volleyball."

Chauhan said the Tehran experience would help the young players become better. “They realise how hard they will have to work to reach the level of the top teams.”

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :