Pro Volleyball League: Single-minded focus for J&K’s Saqlain Tariq

Saqlain Tariq from Poonch in Jammu & Kashmir is all set to brave the odds and make a mark in the Pro Volleyball League.

Driven: Saqlain says, "fear has never got the better of me." Photo: Special Arrangement

The advent of sporting leagues in India has helped identify talent from remote corners.

Be it Mayank Markande and Jasprit Bumrah from the Indian Premier League, or Rishank Devadiga and Kashiling Adake from the Pro Kabaddi League, sportsmen from small towns have used utilised the platform effectively to storm into stardom.

Similarly, Saqlain Tariq from Poonch in Jammu & Kashmir is all set to brave the odds and make a mark in volleyball. Hailing from the Valley, Saqlain is born into a sporting family. His father, a volleyball coach, introduced him to the sport and it is not new for Saqlain to battle adversities.

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“Staying in the valley, there is some emergency, blast or a militancy attack that happens every week. I have faced more bomb shelling as I hail from the Poonch region. Militancy is more prevalent in the nearby villages and there is always this sense of terror floating in the minds of the people. But, I am determined to pursue my dream of playing volleyball and under no circumstances, I am letting all this affect my game,” Saqlain said.

Part of life

For him, shutdowns have become a part and parcel of life. “Heavy shelling at times used to bring life to a standstill. We had no electricity for days but that's how life is and it goes on.

“It's not anyone's fault that they are born in J&K. We all want peace at the end of the day and there is nothing better than sport, which can facilitate that. Shutdowns are very common here but it never affects anyone. We are used to such incidents,” he said.

Volatile region: A view of Poonch city in Jammu & Kashmir. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

 

Saqlain, who started playing volleyball locally with Shaheed Manjit Singh Volleyball club in Poonch which is run by his father, says the trick for being motivated is loving the sport unconditionally. “Fear has never got the better of me. These (militancy, shutdowns) are things which are not in my control. I can only have a grip on my game and practice and the rest is not under my control. Life just goes on for us and for me it's only about volleyball and [there is] nothing else that drives me,” he explained.

Support from family

Saqlain's mother was hesitant at first in advising her son to take up a sport as a career. “I did get a lot of support from my family overall, especially from my father. Even if some family members would get hesitant, my father always backed me to take up volleyball and pursue my dream of playing for the nation,” Saqlain said.

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Belonging to the volatile meant Saqlain was always looked up questionably for a lot of stories on odds. Sometimes, people would look down on his achievements, too. However, he learnt to take it in his stride. “There were times when I have been told to not tell people in national camps that I belong from the valley as that may cause harm to my career. However, I have always believed that not all fingers in a hand are same and I am a proud representative of J&K, a player who also represents his country in volleyball. That has kept me surging ahead,” he explained.

The player, who stands tall at 6’3, hopes the Pro Volleyball League will help the youngsters. “For sure, if this league becomes successful, it’s going to open doors for young volleyball aspirants to take up the sport more professionally and eventually come into the notice of the people. I think I am going to learn a lot from the foreign players, they are all talented and have played across the world. I think it’s going to be interesting to meet them and eventually start playing alongside,” he signed off.

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