Chennai, February 27th, 2024: In the second season of the RuPay Prime Volleyball League powered by A23, the 27-year-old Ashamat Ullah had a bright start. Playing for the Hyderabad Black Hawks against the Ahmedabad Defenders, the Outsider Hitter scored 6 points, and helped his side attain a thrilling 3-2 win. The future seemed bright, but Ashamat's destiny had other plans for him.

While training for the next game against the Kolkata Thunderbolts, Ashamat suffered a fracture in his pinky finger, ruling him out for the rest of the tournament.

"I was heartbroken and I cried a lot. At the time, I had thoughts in my mind to just quit volleyball. It was a fracture, I knew it would recover, but I was really depressed," Ashamat, who is once again back this year for the third season of RuPay Prime Volleyball League powered by A23, representing Hyderabad Black Hawks, said.

Supported and motivated by friends and family members, Ashamat went through an intense three-month recovery process, and found a way back to the sport he fell in love with at a young age. "It was hard period, but I knew the injury would heal. I am grateful to be given another chance this year by Hyderabad. This tournament is important for all of us as it gives us a platform to get recognition."

While growing up at Jangamakote village in Karnataka, Ashamat's school did not have any sports. To spend time with his friends, he started competing in local volleyball matches in his village. "Volleyball is a popular sport in our village and a lot of players come from there. But at that time, I was not aware about professional volleyball."

The stars aligned for Ashamat when he was spotted by a player from SRM University, Chennai, during a local match in his village, and was invited to give trials. But his parents, who ran a small, dwindling, silk business, were not keen on allowing him to travel far away. Ashamat lied that he is going for a state match, gave his trials and was selected. "At SRM, everything was free for us. We used to earn money after our matches which helped in sustaining myself," he recalled.

After a couple of months, Ashamat returned home without telling his coach due to family pressure, and he decided to give exams for Reserve Police Officer. But he needed documents to appear for the exam and he called his coach for help. But his coach insisted that he return to play volleyball.

Ashamat, once again, told his parents that he is going to fetch his documents, and did not return for 2.5 years, sharpening his skills at the University. "I learnt everything at the University under the guidance of the coaches and my fellow players. After spending nearly 3 years, I had to return home once again after our silk business closed down and my brother suffered an accident. I gave an examination for the Army and I was selected."

Holding the Havildar position at the Indian Army, Ashamat was able to help sustain his family. While his parents passed away, his brother and his extended family now run a small grocery shop. Meanwhile, the 27-year-old continued playing for the Indian forces team, and eventually, managed to earn his first international cap for India last year, showcasing his talent at the Asian Championships in Iran.

Now, Ashamat has one dream left. "All I want to do is continuing playing the sport. I want to see Indian volleyball reach the Olympics, and I hope I could represent my nation at the biggest stage," he signed off.