Image Credits: Raj Gondaliya
Meet Raj Gondaliya the volleyball libero for the Nirma University, Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat.
The 19-year-old talks about how he got into Volleyball, his inspiration and the support, goals, memory and journey until now and future goals.
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Since India does not have any prominent names in the field of volleyball as it does in sports like, say, cricket or hockey, what made you choose volleyball and how did you develop your sports career?
Yes, India do not have prominent names in the field of volleyball but when it comes to passion, we should follow it. Someway or somehow, I liked to play volleyball and was good at it rather than other games, whenever I come to ground it makes feel like I am playing my dream and Yes, I felt very happy whenever I touch the volleyball. Even volleyball is something which I played from the childhood.
Your volleyball hero and sporting idols in any other sport?
Earvin N'Gapeth in Volleyball and MS Dhoni in Cricket. Earvin because our playing styles are alike in a couple of ways. Obviously, I can’t play like him or be as good as him, he’s so creative when he has the ball in order to score and set up others. I like watching videos on him to try and learn some moves that will help.
Is there any specified coach or person who has been always inspiring you to continue volleyball or who has been a constant guide to your career from a very young age?
Parimal sir who was my coach inspired to continue playing the sport at all costs and my captian Manav Italia, has been constant guide from a very young age.
How would you describe your game to people who haven’t seen you play?
My biggest strengths are my speed and coachability on the court. I am very quick and I am able to dig hits from the opposition hitter and cover tips from the outside or swings that go through block, and lead the team defense. Often resulting in steals and counter. I am also very good at listening to and applying what my coach is saying. I’ve always been able to hear what my coach is saying and produce the results he wants and expects from me.
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How do you get time to juggle volleyball and your studies?
That is on you how to utilise every single min or sec of your life because if both things matter and you have to work hard and don’t give any excuse. Focus and concentration are both key to fight against these decisions.
What’s that best match that you have ever played? And against which team it was?
The best match I played was during my cluster states in the semi-final against Atmiya Vidhyapheeth School.
Looking back at your school days and now, how did you think you evolved as a player and in what area do you feel you have improved the most? And what’s something you want to add to your game or get better at?
Being a part of this game has given me the opportunity to play the game I love with all of these other talented athletes that are my friends not just teammates. The bond we have formed both on and off the court is something that I will always remember.
I have involved most in my jumping skills as I have mostly played as Libro and I still want to improve my spiker skills as I am lack at it.
Does your college have any rivalry with other team and the match labelled as big thing and prestigious to win at all cost? If yes, explain some of the best moments.
Yes, we have college named PDPU, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. They always have a solid team and both teams show up to play hard every time we meet so the games are pretty intense and a win is against them to important we have only won twice of 6 matches head to head but those two matches are the one which couldn’t be describe that taught us many things. And each moment played against them is unforgettable.
What would you prefer, a bronze medal at the Olympics or a gold medal at the Commonwealth games?
Of course, gold medal at Commonwealth Games as first is always better than 3. You could be always remembered for first not third.
Who or what inspires you to play well in each match that you play in?
My parents definitely inspire me to play well, as I want to do well because of all they have sacrificed to get me to this point in my life. My teammates also influence me. I feel we all keep each other accountable and none of us want to let the others down. They really push me to do my best.