KATHMANDU, Feb 10: Nepal Volleyball Association (NVA) is set to receive a grant of Rs 2.3 million ($32,000) to conduct a youth oriented training program. International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) have sanctioned funds for a four-year term beginning 2011, NVA President Ganga Bahadur Thapa Magar told Republica.
The program basically aims to provide volleyball training and scholarships to SLC graduates. "We will conduct a talent hunt soon after the SLC results are announced. We intend to focus on plus-2 and college students under the new program," said Magar.
Magar further said that the players who meet the physical conditions and age limit but are still in school could also be selected. But the number of players to receive the training has not yet been fixed.
The NVA has also signed an agreement with Higher Secondary Schools´ Association Nepal (HISSAN) for scholarships for the selected players.
Magar said that the NVA decided to focus on young guns as providing training to matured players didn´t yield good results in the past. Magar believes that the training will pave way to form a strong youth and national teams.
There is also a need to replace the aging players of the national volleyball teams, comprising 12 players each in men´s and women´s categories, with young ones.
"The men´s national team has comparatively higher number of over-aged players. We have players as old as 42 years of age. Probably 50 percent of male players and 30 percent of female players will be replaced after the national games that are in the offing," said Magar.
But one of the major setbacks faced by the women´s team as compared to the men´s team is early marriages. "Female players get married as soon as they reach their early twenties. The peak age of a player is the mid-twenties but they have to fulfill their socio-cultural obligation before that. Having young players will hopefully reduce that problem to some extent," he said.
Interestingly, the women´s team has been given much priority as they have won more laurels for the country than the men´s team.
The women´s national team has won bronze twice at the international level -- in the eighth and the tenth South Asian Games (SAG), held in Kathmandu (1999) and Colombo (2006) respectively. The highest achievement of the men´s team has been to reach the semifinal in the 1999 SAG and to register a victory over the hosts Bangladesh for the first time in the 11th edition of the games.
Magar regretted that Pakistan and Bangladesh, the organizers of the 9th and 11th editions of SAG respectively, didn´t include the women´s volleyball events. "We were hoping to improve our record by winning silver but the organizers excluded the event," he added.
However, the NVA has a target of winning gold in about eight to ten years´ time for which the youth oriented program is believed to play a crucial role.
"If we move ahead in an organized way and give international exposure to the players then we can definitely bring good results," said Magar.
Magar sees great potential in young players of Pokhara, Far Western Region and a few schools of Kathmandu. The players of Gyanu Baba Academy, Fishtail and Tops of Pokhara have a good chance of making it to the national team, according to Magar.