He loves the sport as much as his family. And, he has no regrets. No wonder he commands more respect than any of his peers in the district. R. Govindarajulu, the vice-chairman of the Tamil Nadu State Volleyball Association and the president of the renowned Kovai Volleyball Academy (KVA) is a contented man. The septuagenarian, who headed the Coimbatore District Volleyball Association for more than two decades, tells Rayan Rozario about his past and his involvement in developing the game in the district.
“I began my sporting career in a modest fashion playing the role of a centre-half in football. I enjoyed it very much but it did not fetch me enough opportunities. With seniors around, I rarely got a chance to play in major events. So, I decided to shift my focus to volleyball,” says Mr. Govindarajulu. He was quick in taking a decision. “It was easy as well as I got to meet former India volleyball player, Sarangapani Naidu, pretty early in my career. To be frank, it was he who introduced me to the game, which I now love most. He felt that I had the height to my advantage and set the ball rolling. I grabbed it with both hands and from then on there was no turning back.”
Mr. Govindarajulu learnt the game fast and even went on to become the captain of the Union High School team. He later joined the PSG College of Arts and Science and then spent a couple of years in the United States to upgrade his strengths in Textile Management. The KVA top brass owes much of his success to his mother, S.K.R. Ranguluammal. “I lost my father, S.K. Rangaswamy Naidu, as a three-year-old, and it was my mother who carefully shaped my career. I dedicate each one of my achievements to her.” A sound administrator, he won the admiration of his folks for bringing about a sea-change in his village (Veerapandipudur). He was later elected president of the panchayat for three terms.
During this period, he formed the Garuda Recreation Club, and to rope in the youngsters, even conducted district level matches. The young boys made the best use of the facilities for years together. He says that there were lots of clubs but not many activities in the sixties. “We approached the State association and they came to our rescue. I was unanimously elected the president of the district association (in 1964) and I decided to take the game forward. The Association did not have an office of its own to sit and even discuss. We approached the Corporation and they allotted us a place with no big facilities. We renovated and registered the office and from there worked our way to the top.”
If Coimbatore boasts of some of the best players and is a role model to those in the neighbouring districts it is because of Mr. Govindarajulu’s sincere efforts. After having given his all for the district association, Mr. Govindarajulu stepped out knowing pretty well that he has done his job. Mr. Govindarajulu now wants to spend his life with his three-year-old baby, the Kovai Volleyball Academy. “Across the country, everybody is talking about the KVA. I must thank senior India coach G.E. Sridharan, V.C. Ramalingam and generous hearts from Sri Krishna CAS, Pricol, LMW, CRI Pumps and PSG Institutions for the supporting role. My big wish is to see it reach greater heights. I know it will,” he concludes.