Crashing weddings, tuk tuk rides: How Olympian Ci Michel is dazzled with India's volleyball spectacle
This is her first visit to India and going by her updates on social media, things couldn't have been more exciting for the British-American volleyball player.
“I think India are heading in the right direction, 100 percent,” noted Olympian Ciara Michel, who is part of the commentary panel in the ongoing RuPay Prime Volleyball League (PVL) 2023. Michel, who is one of the biggest promoter of volleyball, started playing the sport at 15, which she feels is “actually quite late for most players”.
Despite the fact, Michel's journey from there has onlynelevation, making her a regular face in elite competitions, which includes World Championship, Olympics and the Champions League. Now at 37, Michel is a full-time commentator in major volleyball tournaments and runs a YouTube channel, calling it "the best job in the world”.
This is her first visit to India and going by her updates on social media, things couldn't have been more exciting for the British-American volleyball player. “I don't know how to explain, but as soon as we got off the plane we (Lewie Lett, fellow commentator) immediately got into a tuk tuk (e-rickshaw) and went around the city because we wanted to taste the food. We want to see the sights, we went to the palace, we tried to crash an Indian wedding. It's been so…fun. And the volleyball has been a spectacle,” said Michel in an exclusive interview with hindustantimes.com.
Asked about her first opinion on the home talent and the league overall, Michel is nothing but impressed. However, she does raise an interesting point, which separates PVL from the other leagues played across the world, before adding it “heightens the excitement”.
“The structure of the league is quite condensed. We are used to this eight-month long season. So one of the things that really sticks out to me and to them is how you have to get a lot done in a short period of time. You only have three weeks to really connect with your other teammates, with your setter if you're a middle or a hitter. And that can be quite stressful, but at times it kind of heightens the excitement as well,” said the Olympian.
Coming with a rich experience of having played the sport in multiple countries, Michel in particularly is impressed with India's exposure to volleyball at the grassroots level. However, she also shares an important piece of advice for the budding talents, which is to keenly observe the professionals and not just bump the ball around.
"I actually think India, they do it the right way. We play at picnics or play at the beach or we play just among friends, but there's that sort of grassroots level that's growing. And you don't need a lot to play volleyball, you just kind of need a string against two palm trees if you want to play at the most basic level.
“So I think the interest is there. And if anyone is wanting to really get into it seriously, I would suggest they should watch volleyball first and foremost. Watch the best of the best because that's where you can really learn and analyze the game,” she said.
'Women's volleyball league'
During the interaction, Michel also mentions that “it's only been a few years”, since she started devoting herself to men's volleyball. “I was really into the women's game before that,” she adds.
Asked her opinion on a separate league for women, Michel was thrilled to discuss the idea, before mentioning that she've had similar conversation with fellow PVL commentators as well. “I was actually just having this conversation. I think there's something similar, right with cricket or another sport.”
She, however, doesn't shy from reality, stating a league exclusively for women depends on the fame the men's league garners. “See what happens with the men's league. And then you might launch a Women's League if there's success there. I don't have all the numbers and all the data. But as a volleyball player myself, the excitement level is there, the skill level is there. The product that the PVL has put on for the men's is incredible. So I have no doubt that could absolutely be successful and be replicated in the Women's League,” she said.