Karthick Madhu is a 32-year-old postal worker from Karnataka. He is on his feet for six hours a day at the state government’s postal department office throughout the year – carrying the heaviest parcels between branches. Come February, he will take the field in the Prime Volleyball League (PVL) as the highest paid player in India.
“My work schedule is tough usually. I need to be standing for five-six hours continuously in a day. I handle very huge parcels and I cannot sit in one place and do my work. I need to be standing or go here and there I scan barcodes on the parcels and take invoices to concerned departments,” Karthick told The Bridge.
Karthik was among three players who received the maximum allowed bid of Rs 15 lakh at the recent PVL auction – the IPL-style volleyball league which starts next month. His value, corresponding to the rise in volleyball’s profile, has risen almost three times from when he was picked up for Rs 5.6 lakh at the ‘Pro Volleyball League’ auction three years ago.
On where this windfall ranks in his nine-to-five life, he said, “There is no comparison. Something like this happened three years ago, now again volleyball players in the country have got a platform.”
The captain of the most recent Indian volleyball team, Karthick said the country’s best volleyball players like him have lost out on their best years because of administrative issues in the sport. The Indian volleyball federation was suspended for two years till 2018 due to fighting, but it was the players who bore the brunt of this.
“We have lost a lost over the years. Now finally we have a platform to show our skills, talent. Because of the opportunity that PVL provides, many people have stuck with playing volleyball despite the Covid pandemic,” he said.
Kerala treats volleyball players like rest of India treats cricketers
Karthick also said he is glad to have been picked up at the auction by a Kerala team – Kochi Blue Spikers – because the enthusiasm for the sport is unmatched there.
On Kerala’s craze for volleyball and the huge crowds that are seen there for even for local tournaments, he said, “Like the rest of the country treats cricketers, Kerala treats volleyball players.”
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Karthick added that the messages he receives nowadays on Instagram show him that volleyball’s future in the country is in safe hands.
“Many youngsters message me asking how they can play volleyball professionally. I guide them as much as I can. Who knows, one of them might be the next big star,” he said.
The PVL will be broadcast on the Sony network from February 5.