The three-time Olympian said that India have it in them to qualify for the Games in the next six to 10 years.


Prime Volleyball League will give India a boost towards Olympics qualification, believes David Cameron Lee , who was part of the US team that won gold at the 2008 Beijing Games . In India to play in the inaugural PVL for Calicut Heroes, the three-time Olympian said that India have it in them to qualify for the Games in the next six to 10 years. “Realistically it will take six to 10 years for India to qualify for the Olympics. India has a good chance to qualify from the Asian side. You are competing with Iran, China, Japan and Australia. Those are the teams that you have to beat. But it will take some time and needs some changes in the culture,” Lee told News9 Sports over the phone. India is currently ranked World No. 64, positioned at the 10th place in Asia. They have never qualified for the Olympics but have reached the World Championship twice. Only top three countries from Asia qualify for the quadrennial Games. Lee said that Indian volleyball players need more exposure to improve.

“India is just getting started. In athleticism and talent, they are alongside Iran, China and Japan, but what is lacking is infrastructure. The PVL will bring more professional atmosphere as more international players will be playing in the league.

“Indians can compete with some of the top countries. But they lack consistency and video analysis of their mistakes. I improved by watching my deficiencies. I think that is something which can alter the game and improve the level.

“India should strive to get in much more international exposure. To develop their standard, they also need to develop youth academies. They need to bring in kids aged seven to eight years into the pipeline, develop them with video analysis,” was his prescription to improve India’s standards.

When asked what were his expectations from the new league, the American

star said: “There will be some differences with regards to offence. The Asian teams tend to go into offence around the middle of the court. In international games, offence tend to occur wider of the court. That is the primary difference. Besides that, the players here are very talented and skillful. It’s not going to be easy for the foreigners to compete with the Indians.”

As a professional, Lee said he is looking forward to experiencing a different culture and would be content if his presence benefits the Indian players.

“I will use my knowledge and expertise to help grow this league and develop the players. I have had a very nice interaction with the team so far. The guys are very hospitable. Our team is very good. The top teams to watch out this season would be Calicut, Kochi Blue Spikers and Chennai Blitz. These are the top three teams that I think can be in the final four.”

Playing during this COVID-19 pandemic time is a challenging task in any sport. Playing in front of empty stands will demand a lot from the players, Lee said.

“With Covid restrictions, its definitely a difficult time. It’s difficult to play in front of zero fans. But it can create a kind of energy in the team which is different. Lot of times you have supporters give you some energy, but now it all boils down to yourself, which makes it much harder. Its something that all the teams have to deal with,” the 39-year-old admitted.

On what was his personal target for this year, the volleyball legend said: “I want to win this championship and pass on some of my knowledge to the Indian players of not just my team but other teams as well.”

The PVL will begin on Saturday in Hyderabad’s Gachibowli Indoor Stadium, where ​the home team of Hyderabad Black Hawks face Kochi Blue Spikers. The tournament will consist of a total of 24 matches spread over a course of 23 days.

Each of the seven franchises – Calicut Heroes, Kochi Blue Spikers, Ahmedabad Defenders, Hyderabad Black Hawks, Chennai Blitz, Bengaluru Torpedoes and Kolkata Thunderbolts – will play a single round-robin before the top four teams in the league stage will qualify for the semi-finals. The final of the tournament will be played on February 27.