In a continuing story of unrest, the Volleyball Federation of India announced March 9 that is has decided to form an ad-hoc committee to seize power from the Kerala State Volleyball Association (KSVA), which won the national title in 2016.
The committee is poised to take over operations of the sport in the area by forming its own Kerala Volleyball League unless current KSVA general secretary Nalakath Basheer resigns. The VFI claims that Basheer has a history of going against player interest, including an ongoing scandal regarding former national team player Tom Joseph. The VFI recently completed discussions to form the Kerala Volleyball League and claims it has investors and could be up and running in six to eight months.
The KSVA saga began with a war of words between Joseph and the association administration, namely president Charley Jacob and Basheer back in February. Joseph, the 2014 Arjuna Award winner, claimed the league did not do enough to promote him for the honor, which is given for national achievement in sport. The administration battled back by denying Joseph’s accusations, in turn accusing him of a history of misconduct and discipline issues, going on to say that he won the award more for his crying than his play and ultimately urging him to apologize for his accusations and/or retire from the sport.
In demanding the apology, the KSVA required Joseph to answer their show-cause notice or face a possible one-year suspension. Joseph did not reply to the notice and instead took to social media to further deepen the rift with support from his fellow players.
The back and forth of accusations drew notice from the national State Sports Council which threatened the KSVA.
Sports Council president T.P. Dasan said at the time, “If the association takes no efforts to put an end to this, we will be forced to initiate stringent measures including cancellation of grants and other provisions the sports body is entitled to.
On March 1, a group of former players threatened to form their own association if Basheer was not ousted. Joseph’s history with volleyball in India runs deep. He made his debut in 1999 as a member of the gold medal squad at the SAF Games in Kathmandu. He was named team captain the following year and helped India to two more SAF Games medals. Joseph was left off the national team in 2007, but came back in 2009 for World Cup qualifying. Another departure followed, but in 2012 he was back with the squad at the country’s first Olympic qualification tournament. In club play, Joseph helped Kerala to national titles in 2001, 2011 and 2012, part of the team’s six national championships, including 2016.
National unrest and a media blitz came as Joseph was skipped over for the Arjuna Award in 2012 and 2013, before receiving the honor in 2014.
The newly named ad-hoc committee will be comprised of Central Excise superintendent S.A. Madhu (chairman) and BPCL Sports Officer R. Rajeev (convener), former Deputy Commissioner of Sales Tax N.C. Chacko, Cochin Port Trust Traffic manager Raj Vinod and Karthikeyan. Madhu, Rajeev, Chacko, Vinod are former Indian national team players.