New Delhi, Jan 8 (IANS): A Havaldar in the Indian Army, Pankaj Sharma is eager to prove his mettle in the Prime Volleyball League, which will take place in Kochi from February 5-27. The 28-year-old felt that the tournament will motivate all Indian volleyball players to work on their fitness.
"This tournament will encourage everyone to maintain their fitness levels because the tournament will demand a certain level of fitness. When I got to know that the Prime Volleyball League will take place, I started practicing even harder. The youngsters will benefit the most from the Prime Volleyball League as they can showcase their talent on a great platform," he said.
Asked about how he started playing volleyball, Pankaj said, "I started playing volleyball when I was in school in Shimla. There was a coach in my school, who used to carry out physical activities. He asked me to start playing volleyball. After that, I went to a sports hostel in Rohru (Himachal Pradesh) in 2007."
The attacker added that he learned the basics of volleyball properly in the sports hostel. "I grasped the basics of volleyball very well in the hostel. Thereafter, my cousin told me about the Army Boys Sports Company where I could practice volleyball. So, I enrolled in the Army Boys Sports Company in Faizabad and after finishing my studies, I joined the Indian Army."
The volleyball player further expressed that he had to face many difficulties in his volleyball career because he didn't come from a well-to-do family.
"Whoever has financial constraints, he or she will always face difficulties especially when they have to pursue playing sports professionally. It's difficult to follow a proper diet or buy a good pair of shoes and sports kits with the kind of income my parents earned at home.
"I faced a lot of financial issues before getting a job. My parents used to earn a small minimal income from apple farming which was only enough for the family. However, I am grateful that I always had great coaches to keep me motivated and help me through my tough times in life," he said.
Pankaj also spoke about his biggest achievement in volleyball so far. "I played my first senior nationals in the 2012-13 season for the Services team. In 2013, I joined the India camp for the first time and played for the country the same year itself. My biggest achievement in volleyball is playing for India at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta. It is every player's dream to represent their country."