The popularity of Volleyball in India made it famous when the sport earned a permanent spot in the South Asian Federation Games (SAF) in Kolkata in 1987. However, its popularity reached new heights when the Indian Volleyball team won the Gold Medal in the Colombo games in 1991.
Volleyball was invented in 1895 by William G. Morgan in Massachusetts, USA. However, it was introduced to India by the British for the first time in the early 20th century. At that time, it was more like a recreational activity for British officers and soldiers in India. The first-ever Indian Volleyball team was formed in 1951 which took part in the first Asian Games held in New Delhi, India.
List of Famous Volleyball Players in India
Throughout the years, there have been players who have made quite an impression while representing India in Volleyball. In this article, we will have a look at the Top 10 renowned Volleyball players.
Jimmy George is often regarded as one of the most popular and greatest Volleyball players in India. George was born to the Kudakkachira family, at Thundiyil near Peravoor in the Kannur district, on 8th March 1955. He was the youngest Volleyball player to win the Arjuna Award at the age of 21 in 1976. George was also given the G.V. Raja Award in 1975 and went on to win the Manorama Award, for the best sportsman of Kerala in 1976. He was adjudged as the Best Player while playing for Abu Dhabi Sports Club in the Persian Gulf region from 1979-82. Unfortunately, Jimmy George died in a car accident in Italy on 30th November 1987, when he was just 32 years old. After his death, the Jimmy George Foundation which instituted the Jimmy George Award in 1989 for the Best Sportsperson in Kerala.
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A. Palanisamy was a professional Indian Volleyball Player from Tamil Nadu. He represented the country at the Asian Games in the early 60s. Palanisamy was born in 1932 in Kallampatti near Melur, Madurai district, Tamil Nadu. He was also given the nickname of Black Panther for his ferocious attacks during the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta. He was awarded Best Player in 1962 and was also the first Volleyball player to win the Arjuna Award. He finally parted ways with the sport in 1998 after coaching the Sivaganga District in Tamil Nadu. He died on 12th November 2007.
Cyril Vellore is a renowned Volleyball player from India, who has competed in several National and international competitions. He was the captain of the Indian Volleyball team in the 1986 Asian Games in Seoul and led the team to the Bronze medal in that edition. He received the Arjuna Award in 1986 for his commendable services to Indian Volleyball. Vellore also had so many great partnerships with the Indian Volleyball legend Jimmy George that made them a great force to be reckoned with in the decade of 1980s.
Balwant Singh Sagwal
Balwant Singh Sagwal was an Indian Volleyball player who took part in many National competitions. He was born in the Hamlet of Kaul in Haryana in 1945. Balwant joined the Border Security Force, which was known for producing some of the great Volleyball players in the country at that time. He played a key role in the success of Punajb’s Volleyball team in the decades of 60s and 70s helping them win many National level competitions. Sagwal was honored with the Arjuna Award in 1972 for his contributions to the Indian Volleyball. He died on the 14th of November in 2010 and left his legacy behind in the form of Volleyball academy in Kaul.
Born in 1959, Abdul Bastih has served as the captain of the Indian Volleyball team from 1986-1989 and has also been a part of the Indian team that won the Bronze Medal at the 1986 Asian Games in Seoul. He was known for his modesty, courteous attitude, fair play, and transcending physical makeup and also won the Arjuna Award in 1989. Unfortunately, Basith died in 1991 at the age of 32.
Kartik Madhu is a National Volleyball Player from Karnataka and the captain Kochi Blue Spikers in the Excellent Volleyball Association (PVL). He began his Volleyball journey for the Sports Authority of India and went on to make his Junior Nationals debut for Karnataka in 2009. Madhu made his debut for India in the 2016 South Asian Games in which India won the Gold Medal.
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Nirmal Kaur Saini
Nirmal Kaur Saini was a former Indian Volleyball player and the captain of India women’s public volleyball team. She was the wife to athlete Milkha Singh and a mother to the Indian Golfer Jeev Milkha Singh. Nirmal was a captain of the Indian Volleyball team that won the Bronze Medal in the 1986 Asian Games in Seoul by defeating Japan. She was also a part of the Gold-Medal winning team at the South Asian Games in 1985. In 2021 Nirmal Kaur Saini was honuored with the Lifetime Achievement award after serving as the Director of Sports for Women at the State Department. Born on 8th October 1938, she took her last breath on 13th June, 2021 at the age of 82.
Ashwal Rai is an Indian Volleyball player and the captain of the inaugural champions of the Excellent Volleyball Association (PVL), Kolkata Thunderbolts. The Karnataka player had an impressive outing in the first season scoring 57 attack points along with 12 successful blocks.
Ramavtar Singh Jakhar
Ramavtar Singh Jakhar is a former Indian Volleyball from the Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan. He is currently serving as the chairperson for the Volleyball Federation of India. Ramavtar won the Aravali Award in 1991 and Maharan Pratap award in 1992.
Muthusamy Appavu is an Indian Volleyball player who plays as a setter for Ahmedabad Defenders. He is a part of the Indian team that won the bronze medal at both the U21 BRICS Games and the U23 Asian Championship where Appavu won the Best Setter.