“It’s important for female voices to be heard” - Prime Volleyball League commentator Ci Michel on the advancement of women in sports

(Image Credits: RuPay Prime Volleyball League)
(Image Credits: RuPay Prime Volleyball League)

Ci Michel is a revered figure in volleyball, hailing from a diverse background that spans across continents. Beginning her journey at the University of Miami in the USA, she honed her skills and passion for the sport before venturing to the University of Melbourne in Australia to pursue a Master's degree, expanding her horizons both academically and athletically.

With a thriving YouTube channel boasting over 5.95K subscribers and a successful podcast, she continues to engage with fans and enthusiasts worldwide, sharing insights and stories from her illustrious career. Additionally, Ci Michel lends her expertise and unique perspective to elite volleyball competitions as a commentator, including the World Championship, Olympics, and the Champions League.

In a recent interview with Sportskeeda, Michel offered candid reflections on her journey from player to influencer, highlighting her love for the sport and her desire to remain closely involved despite stepping off the court.

Furthermore, she shared her insights on the growth of women's sports and the promotion of gender equality.

Here are a few excerpts from the interview:

Q: How has the journey been transitioning as a commentator from a player?

Ci Michel: From being a player to being a commentator, the journey has been incredible because I love the sport so much, and I wanted to stay as a player as long as possible, but obviously, you get a little older, etc. It's been a fun transition because I love videography, photography, and talking.

I just started doing podcasts and YouTube, and then one thing led to the next thing, and I got the jobs with the commentating. And I love that I can stay so close to the sport without putting on the knee pads and going to the gym and jumping.

Q: Being a female commentator, how does that promote women in sports further?

Ci Michel: I think it's important for female voices to be heard in every area, especially sports because it can be quite male-dominated. It's extremely normal for you to have male coaches in women's sports and male commentators and male referees and all sorts of things in women's sports.

So, as much as it's important to have women commentating on women's sports, I think it's also equally important to have women talking about men's sports as well because no one would bat an eyelid if it were the other way around. I think just women have a different perspective on everything, so it's excellent.

Q: How do you manage YouTube and other tournaments where you commentate when both happen together?

Ci Michel: YouTube is just a hobby. I do that if and when I have time for it. It was kind of the springboard for getting into commentating, but I don't do it nearly as much as I probably should. Now, it's more of a creative outlet. So if there are any tournaments or anything with the volleyball world that takes priority every time, then YouTube kind of just fits in where it can.

Q: How important do you think is gender equality in sports?

Ci Michel: I don't think anything can ever be completely equal. However, attempts to give the same opportunities to men and women are always going to be necessary. So, in that regard, volleyball in some countries is considered more of a women's sport, and in other countries, it is more of a men's sport. Some are completely even. But I think there are probably many women who would love to play at a high level, and if they're given that opportunity in India, I'm sure they would do it.

Q: What steps need to be taken to promote women in sports?

Ci Michel: The women will speak for themselves. In other words, if you give a platform for people, as in, if you provide the resources, coaches, training facilities, and compensation to women in any sport, especially volleyball, they'll rise to the occasion, and you'll see that that level will rise.

So, the steps that need to be taken to promote women in sports are the exact steps that need to be taken to promote anyone in sports. I think that is the importance of the prime volleyball league and the sport's growth in India.

I think it's fantastic that the opportunity has been given that there was someone who saw a gap in the market in terms of media and TV. Still, the opportunity for these guys to live out their dreams, to play professional volleyball, to be at the highest level, and to have some exposure is great, not just for volleyball but for all sports.

In India, there's space for everyone. Of course, there's one dominant sport, but people will have an appetite for it. It's just a natural part of our nature to want to see people compete at the highest level of anything. So it's great.

Q: Thoughts on India having a women's volleyball tournament?

Ci Michel: I would love to see it. I got asked last time if I would come back and maybe coach and the answer was an emphatic no. I would not coach, nor would I play. I don't have the patience, and my body is done; however, I am commenting on it. Absolutely. I think there's definitely a place for it, and I'd love to see it.

Q: How do you see the growth of women's sports in the near future?

Ci Michel: I've been following along volleyball, specifically in the USA, and it's been taking off. Women's sports, in general, are having quite a moment and proving that there is an appetite for it. There are tons of people out there who want to see it and will pay for it, and the level is high.

So, I don't think anyone's expecting equality in terms of strength or speed of the attack or pitting men and women. The biology and nature are there. There is a difference. However, there's a lot to be said about the tactics and skill, and the longer rallies in a women's game are really exciting.

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Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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