Monday, April 23, 2007

Ventures Spikers Cup 2007

Although I do not know how to correctly punctuate the title, I am not bothered about it. The tournament that ended yesterday was in many ways a memorable one. Representing one's clan is always a proud feeling. Be it your school, or your neighbourhood, your family or at the topmost level your country, representing them in a competitive environment is bound to bring the best out of you. And probably that's what did the trick. Representing (or rather, leading) my organization at the Ventures Spikers Cup volleyball tournament did leave me with some of the proudest moments. We may have lost out on many of crucial counts and that may have left us with Err-- we could and should have won more matches than we actually did, we learnt a lot of things over the course of last four days.

Let me try to capture some of those:

  • Playing conditions do matter a lot, not just in cricket. The first two days of matches were under threat from the rain Gods and on day 1, play was stopped due to rain. The rains and the sand court - two parameters we never had to encounter while our work-outs did make a lasting impact. The journey home that night was a memorable one with many of us returning late, exhausted from the match play and drenched literally to the bones. The next day, all of us were rather stiff and nonathletic. We lost the first game on day 2!
  • It doesn't matter how good player you are unless you perform in the match. It's just like cricket! Pre-match practice is always studded with some hard hits and impressive display of skills that may demoralize the opposition. Yet, what really matters is how you perform from the word go. I have seen many spikers who hit extremely hard in pre-match practice but come cropper once the real game starts. I was sad when this happened to my colleague and that resulted in our team's overall performance. And that reminded me of Wayne Rooney - always a big match player, and that's why he is admired and feared by many!
  • Two successive games, that too in a must-win situation can take a lot out of you. After the loss in the second match, we had to win the third to qualify for the semi finals. We struggled, still carrying the depression from the first loss. But then, we recovered in time and sneaked through to the semi finals.
  • Perhaps in India volleyball is associated with Kerala. And that's a rule rather than exception. After our close loss in the semi-finals, while shaking hands with our opponents, first thing I was asked was if I was a Malyali! To tell the truth, I was elated and flattered beyond imagination!
  • From the high of almost reaching the finals, we slumped to the fourth position with another loss. Again, we lost after leading in both the sets. Somewhere, we lacked that professionalism and desire to win. The spikers in our team were under-used and the outfield play was far from breathtaking. The minds moved faster than bodies and the ball flew around with mouths agape. A little more focus should have done the trick. Now, at least now we know, what would have done the trick!
It was a bitter-sweet end of an exciting tournament for me, as even though we lost the third-place match, I was chosen the Spiker of the Tournament. It was an honour, for there were many other spikers of similar calibre. I guess, what mattered the most was the Rooney factor, that I played my shots when it mattered the most for my team. I scored when my team needed the points badly. I feel that although I failed to inspire the team by my words, I did so through my smashes (and I am still guessing!). One or two games when I was really fired up, the team did very well to win those games comprehensively. Overall, we fell short by probably a few whiskers.

In passing, I am rather happy that we lost some of the crucial matches, for they have taught much more and much better than a victory would have!

Photo: Me holding the Best Spiker of the Tournament Award


Shantanu said...

Congrats on winning that title! Was this an intra-Intel series of matches or was it intra-corporates tournament?

Ajit said...

Thanks Shantanu. It was a corporate tournament with 9 companies participating...