Chetna Vala – Indian Volleyball captain from a Gujarat village, where Volleyball is Religion…
1st February 1998
Sarkhadi, Kodinar, Gir-Somnath district, Gujarat
Proudly says ‘imd1’ for
A village is always a symbol of our periodic traditions. But there is one such village in the heart of Gujarat that has transformed the nature of sports completely. It has become the hub for volleyball. All credit goes to a coach Vajrang Vala and the sportswomen of this village who have let their society endure a boundless transformation. The way cricket has been considered a religion in our country, people from Sarakhdi, in Gir Somnath district worship Volleyball. Here, one player among the rising ones is Chetna Vala who is the captain of Indian National Women Volleyball team. She recently returned from BRICS China and received a champion’s welcome at Sarakhdi village, after heading India’s Under-20s volleyball team. Sports run in Vala girls blood as seven cousins are naturally talented in volleyball. Collectively, the sisters have won 7 Gold, 7 Silver, 12 Bronze and 24 National Awards in volleyball.
Team imd1 had a chat with her a few days ago, read on to know her journey!
We are really keen to know, how did your journey begin?
Watching my sister Shilpa and Geeta playing volleyball with such an amazing aptitude drew me towards the sport. Shilpa was only the 2nd player from Gujarat to represent India at international level. Geeta attended international level camps and both are gold medalists. Our uncle Vajrang Valia has soulfully been coaching throughout on Volleyball essentials, which has played a major role in my willingness and success in terms of Volleyball.
Quote for Life
Sow seeds of hard work to reap the rewards.
Lady Finger or any Vegetarian food
Most Disliked Food
Had you not been an athlete then
Can’t think beyond volleyball
Idea of Vacations
Somnath temple, Daman & Diu (India)
Favorite Pass time
Listening to songs
Chak De India
Favorite Actor / Actress
What has been your success mantra?
One must practice with total dedication to get the results.
What were the hardships & hurdles you encountered and how did you overcome them?
I was lucky that my sisters were always there to guide me and provide me the right course when I flawed. My sisters Shobhana, Shilpa and Geeta are already successful and I have been fortunate to witness their journey to reach here as well. Hardships and hurdles are all part of life from which one learns life’s important lessons. It makes you stronger to face any difficulties. Nothing can take away your destiny.
Do you think Volley Ball and its learning’s can be helpful in life even if one does not want to consider it as a career goal?
Be it any sport, it has a holistic effect on one’s life. There cannot be any dependency on career choice. Sport is pursued for one’s own development.
Who has been your influencer in your journey so far?
My 3 sisters, Shobhana, Geeta and Shilpa who are gold medalists have always been my biggest influencers.
Which was “that” moment when you considered yourself as “I am the 1”?
When I won Gold at the Junior National level tournament in Chandigarh, all my efforts paid off and I really felt – Yes, I am the 1!
Did you get any formal training and how was that journey?
I had received formal training by my coach Vajrang Vala. Currently I am being trained at ‘Centre of Excellency’ by other coaches. We follow a very disciplined and stern routine for practicing outdoors ground daily.
Could you reflect on the importance of systematic training in Volley Ball?
Systematic training is a must in volleyball. Fitness should be the criteria for starting any training. First the fitness level should be enhanced and then skill.
What are the pre-coaching essentials e.g. Right age, mindset or any other?
No such essentials required in volleyball. It can be pursued at any age based on interest of the player.
Technology and scientific training has been changing the way people get trained in Volley Ball. What’s your take?
Technology has brought a lot of positive changes around the world and also in India when it comes to sports. New fitness procedures are followed be it gymnastics, physiotherapy or regular exercises. This has proven helpful to players in performing at national & international level.
How can one select an ideal ‘Guru’ for getting formal training for volley ball?
Communication with your coach is very important. One needs to understand the tips addressed by the coach.
What according to you, can be a scope for improvement in training for Volley Ball in India?
Fortunately, in Gujarat, government has started Sports Academy and DLSS (District level sports school), which provides total infrastructure. ‘The Center of Excellency’ set up in 2012, by Sports Authority of Gujarat (SAG), offers proper court & facilities like residence, transportation and allowance. Apart from this, Government provides excellent support for travel, tournaments and all the training facilities. With the so much experience of international level, I can vouch that these facilities are no less than required and available at international level and in other countries.
What do you suggest for better accessibility of this sport in remote parts of India?
If one is interested and has the will, they need to come out of their shell. Residing in a remote area should not be a hurdle. I want to help upcoming sports enthusiasts in pursuing their dream. I don’t want anyone to go through the challenges I have faced. I would advise, ‘’If you have the will, work hard towards your goal”
Your piece of advice to parents and new generation especially when some people are skeptical about career in extra curriculum.
Simple! If a child is interested in sports, allow them to chase it, so that they can give their best and enjoy what they do.
How can one identify this talent in the family and encourage it?
Parents are the biggest strength and support for any child. They are the ones who can identify their strength and weakness. It is important to enhance the child’s talent and help them overcome their weakness. Assigning a good coach is equally necessary to develop their skill and get the required guidance.
In your opinion, what are the basic key traits apart from formal training that make “imd1”?
One has to be interested in sports they do and be prepared for hard core training. And apart from hard work, it requires smart work as well.
Any other thoughts you want to share?
Many villages still follow the custom and conservative attitude of not allowing girls to play. This needs to be changed as with time, girls have proved that they can perform better than boys.