Manorama Club Award 2023: Redlands Volleyball Centre reaps rich rewards

 Redlands Volleyball Centre
Redlands Volleyball Centre office-bearers and trainess. Photo: Manorama

Thrissur: Being the birthplace of former India international Cyril C Valloor, Varandarappilly near here holds a special place in Kerala's volleyball landscape. However, Varandarappilly's reputation of being a volleyball hub was on the wane when Redlands Volleyball Centre, one of the three finalists for the Manorama Sports Club Award 2023, came into existence in 2012. Ever since, the academy, located at Varakkara, has developed a reputation for producing volleyball players of real quality.

Over the past 12 years, Redlands Volleyball Centre has gone from strength to strength, producing as many as 124 national-level players, 220 state players, and one India international. The academy owns two volleyball courts, including a state-of-the-art indoor facility, and provides free education and hostel facilities to nurture players of the highest calibre.

Redlands Volleyball Centre is the brainchild of industrialist Ashlyn Antony Chemmannoor. An avid follower of the game, Ashlyn was returning home from Kolkata on train when he witnessed the ordeal of the players of the Kerala state volleyball team, who were travelling in the heavily crowded general compartments after winning the national title. Shocked to see their plight, the train journey prompted him to do his bit to develop volleyball in the state. 

With the support of his wife Sunitha, Ashlyn decided to set up a modern volleyball facility in Varakkara and groom youngsters to take up volleyball as a career. Ex-India international Joffy George and his wife and former captain of the national women's team Mercy Joffy were chosen to head the facility. Joffy was also the chief coach. Initially, training was imparted to high school and Plus Two students from the area. All the trainees were admitted to CJMA HSS, Varandarappilly, and their education expenses were borne by the academy. A scouting programme was initiated to find tall kids with a passion for the sport in the region. In the first year itself, the academy did well at the district-level U-19 championship. 

Every year, 30 children are admitted to the facility. When students completing their Plus Two courses leave the academy, new ones will be recruited. Some of the top talents to have emerged through the ranks of Redlands Volleyball Centre are India international Jibin Job, national senior players Hemanth Manoj and Vishnu Manoj, and inter-varsity players Sayanth Surendran and M S Gokul. 

Every day, the children practice at the academy in two shifts – between 6 am and 8.30 am and 5 pm to 7 pm - under the watchful eyes of head coaches and manager Roy Alappatt.

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