The RuPay Pro Volleyball League, a brainchild which resulted from a joint initiative between Baseline Ventures and the Volleyball Federation of India (VFI), commences on the 2nd of February, 2019 at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium in Kochi.
On the back of the resounding success of other sporting leagues such as the Indian Premier League & the Pro Kabaddi League to name a few, the RuPay-sponsored Pro Volleyball League paves the way for youngsters and national stars to rub shoulders with the likes of Olympians, David Lee and Carson Clark, among others.
Certainly, an exciting team to watch out for, the Black Hawks Hyderabad drafted USA's towering Carson Clark in the first draft while in the second draft, Canada's Alex Bader was added to the roster.
Under the tutelage of experienced coach, Bir Singh Yadav, the Hyderabad team is decked with five attackers, three blockers, two setters, one libero and one universal.
Here is how the team shapes up for the season ahead -
International Icon Player and Captain: Carson Clark (USA)
World Championships’ gold medallist, Carson Clark of the United States of America is undoubtedly the biggest name in the Hawks' team and the 'Most Valuable Player' from U.S.A's 2017 World League pool final will hope to bring his experience to the fore and lead his young team to the title.
A member of the 2014 FIVB World League Team, Clark has acres of experience, having played in France, Poland and Greece, which makes him an apt choice for the captaincy role as well.
Alex Bader from Canada is the second international addition to the Hawks team and his two years with the University of Saskatchewan and three years with the University of Calgary Dinos, where he picked up 364.5 points in the 2017-18 season, earned him a spot in the Canada West first-team at the All-Star competition in 2018.
Chirag is one of the youngest players at 18 years of age but one who has already notched up a lot of experience in the local circuit. Having played in the junior nationals and U-19 nationals twice and most recently at the Khelo India Youth Games, Chirag comes into the team with considerable experience.
Amit Kumar comes into the team as an Indian international and was a part of the 2018 Asian Games squad that participated in Jakarta, Indonesia. The 20-year old has already taken part in two Senior Nationals and was also a part of the team that won the Bronze medal at the 3rd BRICS Games held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Rohit Kumar is yet another national team player who has already formed an integral part of the national setup and was a part of the 2018 Asian Games team. Having contributed for Haryana at the 2018 Senior Nationals, Kumar comes in with good form, having excelled at the All India Inter-University Tournament this year.
Ashwal Rai comes from the land of Karnataka and is known for his stylish play as a central blocker. A massive part of Karnataka's title win at the 67th Senior Nationals, Rai was also a part of the India U-23 team which claimed the top honors at the 2015 Asian Men's Volleyball Championships. Rai's experience from the local circuits is certain to have a massive impact on the team and its fortunes.
Guramritpal Singh is one of the most experienced players in the team and he has plied his trade for a long time now.
A six-time participant in the Senior Nationals, five times at the Federation Cup and with one appearance at the National Games, Singh is a crowd favourite and will be a vital contributor to the team.
Sonu Kumar Jhakar has had his fair share of game time at the local level and made his way into the Indian team when he represented the nation at the BRICS tournament in South Africa. Having played in the Senior Nationals for four years in a row, Jhakar is being tipped to have a good season.
Nandi Yashvanth Kumar's dominance at the regional levels prompted the Hawks to add the talented setter to their roster and he indeed walks into the side with buckets of experience across various levels. The 28-year old was a part of the Senior Volleyball team at the 18th Asian Championships in Iran and also captained the U-23 Indian team in 2015 in the same competition. The main setter in the team, Kumar's proficiency on the day could bear fruits for the Hawks.
Muthusamy Appavu has consistently chipped in with top showings at the nationals, which has also directly translated to Kerala's dominance in the competition. Striking a top partnership with the likes of Jerome Vinith and Vibin George, Muthusamy is heralded as one of the best finds of Indian volleyball in recent times and will undoubtedly, play a huge role for the Hawks.
Kamlesh Khatik has a prolific record in Indian volleyball and has also tasted a lot of success over the years. A member of the national setup in 2013-14, Khatik was also part of the Bronze-medal winning National Games team in 2015 and has participated four times in the Senior Nationals and three times in the Federation Cup. The lone Libero in the team, Khatik will up against it.
Angamuthu Ramaswamy is one for education but has also equally excelled in the sport that he has found as his passion a long time ago. A three-time gold medal winner at the All-India Inter-University competition, Ramaswamy's flair earned him a place in the Indian Railways team and he went on to bag the silver medal at the 66th Senior Nationals and the Federation Cup in 2018. With significant game time under his belt, Ramaswamy's combination with skipper Clark could prove to be the X-factor for the Hawks.
The Black Hawks will be coached by Bir Singh Yadav, who is the current coach of the Indian volleyball team, who also happened to coach the Men's national side which travelled to Jakarta, Indonesia for the 2018 Asian Games.
Black Hawks Hyderabad Full Squad
Carson Clark (C), Ashwal Rai (vc), Alex Bader, Amit Kumar, Rohit Kumar, Chirag, Guramritpal Singh, Sonu Kumar Jhakar, Nandi Yashwant Kumar, Muthusamy Appavu, Kamlesh Khatik, Angamuthu Ramaswamy.
The Hawks will play under the tagline 'HawkAttack' and have roped in Nivia as their official 'Kitting partner'. Their dark orange and black logo with a Hawk at the foreground, adds the excitement to the cause ahead of the season.