ONGC supports Brahmaputra Volleyball League initiative to promote sports in remote villages of Assam
ONGC is supporting Brahmaputra Volleyball League, an initiative by its employee and former volleyball players of Assam, to promote sports in remote & rural villages and build sports talent pipeline for the national team. As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, ONGC has provided 930 volleyballs, one net to all 93 centers, track suits to all the participating children in the League and a small kit bag for all players. The decision to support the sports initiative was taken by CMD and Director (HR) Dr Alka Mittal after she was briefed about this unique initiative in Nov 2021.
The Brahmaputra Volleyball League, a brainchild of Senior HR Executive (CSR) Abhijit Bhattacharya, started in 2019 with the idea to give a platform to the volleyball players from remote and rural villages. The initiative was supported by an organization of former volleyball players from Assam (Assam Volleyball Mission 100), which helped around 35 rural centers by giving balls and net from their own savings.
“When the idea of Brahmaputra Volleyball League came to my mind, we had zero budget and no corporate sponsors. So, we called an online meeting of all our centers in-charge and explained to them that if they can contribute few kilos of rice, dal, oil and vegetable from the villagers we will be able to start the league. They readily agreed and that's how the league was conceived. They collected rice, dal, oil and vegetables from the villagers to organize the League which was organized in home and away format. The matches were organized on weekends and four village teams were clubbed in one pool. During weekend one village team went to another to play a matches, enjoy a meal together and return back to their village in the evening” Mr Bhattacharya told ONGC Reports.
“The host team used to take the responsibility of serving meals and arrange for the ground. In this format, community takes the ownership of League and children get exposure to visit different villages and learn new things. Since, there was a transportation cost involved and We thought of giving a playing kit to these children the idea of team adoption and ownership came . We requested our well-wishers to adopt a team at Rs 12,000 each, through which we were able to give each player a playing jersey, shorts, a bag, skipping rope and cover their transportation cost,” he added.
In the first edition in 2019-2020, a total of 400 children (both boys and girls under the age of 16 years) from 35 villages participated through 50 teams. The prizes were also crowd funded. This year, the League has grown four fold with over 2,200 participating children through 209 teams (four categories - Under 16 and Under 21 for both boys and girls) from 93 villages.
After the first edition, the International Institute of Sports Management conducted an impact assessment study, wherein it was found that 90 per cent of the children participating in the League went out of their village for the first time in their life thanks to the League and 90 per cent of them wore a personal sports jersey for the first time in their life.
The Brahmaputra Volleyball League has the potential to become a launch pad for leading sports talent from villages of Assam. All leading media group from The Times of India to Hindustan Times have covered stories on this first of a kind grassroots league implemented in India for the first time. Through this initiative, Mr Bhattacharya aims to popularize the sport in Assam and create a talent pool that can be part of the Indian team, who can play in the Olympics one day.