Kochi Blue Spikers' captain Karthik Madhu is eyeing a winning start to his team's campaign ahead of the opening fixture against Hyderabad Black Hawks on Saturday in the Rupay Prime Volleyball League 2022.

“We have Deepesh Sinha, my teammate in the Indian team, the two foreign players Colton Cowell and Cody Caldwell from USA and our libero Venu, who was the second-best receiver in the U19 World Championship. We must look to start well as winning the first match is always important,” he said.

Karthik feels the team management’s introduction of a mind wellness trainer will be an added advantage for his side and the sport.

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“While training, we do focus on fitness and ball related drills. We also have introduced a new mind wellness trainer, which is new to volleyball. This is the first time our team has taken the initiative to introduce us to such a trainer. He makes sure we focus more on the game, our emotions are positive and teaches us how to control our mind,” Karthik said during a interaction with  Sportstar .

Having been in the sport for more than 10 years, Karthik has tasted success as captain before, leading Karnataka to the gold in the 2018-19 senior nationals after almost 45 years.

“It was a new team when we played in that nationals. In the previous nationals, we used to enter the quarters and end up losing, but that nationals we wanted to go one step ahead (2018-19 nationals) and achieve big, that kept motivating us to do better,” he said.

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However, Karthik feels his role as captain will not change his dynamics with the players. “I feel all the players need to have a sense of responsibility to make sure that they give their best, make our team win and bring laurels to the country. My interactions with my teammates regardless of whether I’m a captain or not will remain the same.”

Recollecting his first tour with the senior national team in the 2016 South Asian Games, where India won gold, the 27-year-old called it one of his best memories. “All matches are special to me, but the 2016 South Asian Games in Guwahati, where we won the gold medal, would always be special to me.”

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When not playing volleyball, Karthik works from 9 AM to 2 PM as a postal assistant in Karnataka’s postal department. “I’m a part of their volleyball team, and we are currently the number one department team in Karnataka. After work, we (the volleyball team) go back to practice," Karthik, who is currently on leave to play in PVL 2022, said.

Karthik advised youngsters to maintain their fitness level at all times and make full use of the platform provided by Prime Volleyball League. “When we were juniors, we didn’t have anyone to guide us when it came to fitness. I always tell them to keep themselves fit without any injuries, play well by improving your skills and keep it going,” he concluded.

Kochi Blue Spikers   will be up against Hyderabad Black Hawks on Saturday at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad.

The RuPay Prime Volleyball League will be broadcast LIVE on SONY SIX, SONY TEN 1 (English), SONY TEN 3 (Hindi), SONY TEN 4 (Tamil & Telugu) & SONY TEN 2 (Malayalam) channels from February 5, 2022.