Ramana Rao: Players’ interest should be top priority

"The players should not suffer as India has already missed out on six international events including the ABC under-19, under-23 and the senior championships this year."

A file picture of A. Ramana Rao.   -  K. R. Deepak

The newly-appointed vice-president of the Volleyball Federation of India Dronacharya A. Ramana Rao felt that India lost an invaluable one-and-a-half years because of the infighting in the federation. And the players had to miss international competitions during this phase for no fault of theirs.

“The immediate target is to prepare the Indian team for the next Asian Games. It is a pity that because of the infighting the image of the sport itself took a beating,” he said.

“My request to the new set-up is to focus on what the players need and it is not important as to who is the president or secretary. The players should not suffer as India has already missed out on six international events including the ABC under-19, under-23 and the senior championships this year.

“As things stand now we cannot compete for the rest of the year too as the calendar is complete,” the 71-year-old Ramana Rao told Sportstar on Thursday.

“It was painful to see Indian volleyball decline since the 2016 Bengaluru Nationals. Things just fell apart as none of the officials seemed to be bothered about the game or the players,” he said.

“We request the Indian Olympic Association and the Union government to recognise the new body immediately in the wake of the court order so that the Asian Volleyball Confederation and the international body FIVB fall in line,” Ramana Rao added.

“It is time all officials of the VFI work towards the promotion of the game. I must remind here that all the good work done by Dr. Sivanthi Adityan as president of VFI for decades was blown away during these two years,” he said.

“Honestly, I am neither elated nor concerned about my post. As a former international player my heart and soul is with the players. I repeat, players’ interests should be the top priority,” Ramana Rao said.

“Yes, it may take some time to take corrective measures, but this new set-up has the knowledge, will and sincerity to give a new image to VFI in the days to come,” he concluded.