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The 2023 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship is around the corner and will be held in Bengaluru commencing on December 6 with the finals set to take place on December 10.
The hype of volleyball was at its peak in India in the 1950s, but it tailed off towards the end of the 20th century. The tri-colored flag nation is once again back in the reckoning for top prizes in global volleyball and will be hosting the 2023 edition of the coveted tournament to stamp its arrival on the international scene.
Volleyball was initially played with equipment from other sports. The ball used was from basketball, the nets were from tennis, and the use of hands was inspired by the likes of handball. Moreover, before the introduction of sets in the sport, volleyball used to function on the concept of innings, which was borrowed from baseball.
In 1913, volleyball started getting popular in Asian countries. However, the game always lacked a proper set of rules and regulations before the establishment of the Federation Internationale de Volleyball in April 1947.
During the time of its inception, FIVB only had 14 representatives.
Nevertheless, FIVB has now developed into one of the biggest sporting organizations in the world, with 222 affiliated bodies.
Volleyball’s Growing Popularity in India
Unarguably, volleyball has joined the list of one of the most popular sports in the world. However, the game has always suffered negligence from the Indian sports perspective. Despite some historic moments in history, volleyball is still overlooked in the sub-continent.
In the last few years, the world has witnessed a significant rise in the popularity of the Indian national volleyball team. From the Olympics to the World Championships, the team game has managed to become an eye candy for sports enthusiasts.
Moreover, the Indian team also recorded instrumental victories over Chinese Taipei and the Republic of Korea in the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, which helped them get media attention.
India’s mark in international volleyball
India has only managed to make two appearances in the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship.
In 1952, India made its first appearance in the globally acclaimed tournament along with the founding members of FIVB, the Soviet Union, France, Czechoslovakia, and other nations. The Indian men’s national volleyball team finished eighth in the campaign as they recorded a few historic wins over the likes of Finland, Israel, and Lebanon.
In 1955, the sub-continent nation won the Asian Volleyball Tournament, which was held in Tokyo. In 1958, when volleyball was introduced in the Asian Games for the first time, the men’s Indian team bagged a bronze medal.
In the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games, the Indian team gave a much-improved performance by winning the silver medal in the men’s team event. However, the performance of the Indian volleyball team started declining at a drastic rate in the last couple of decades in the 20th century.
Teams Making a Mark
Volleyball was always about nations, and only a few countries managed to dominate on the global level. However, things started changing with the introduction of the FIVB Volleyball Club World Championship.
With the inception of major club volleyball tournaments, players started getting more exposure as well as the opportunity to display their unique skill sets in prowess.
Profiles of top teams
The 2023 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championships is expected to be a close contest between defending champions Sir Sicoma Perugia and Sada Cruzeiro. Trentino missing the tournament can also be a huge opportunity for the other teams to build a fairy tale of their own.
Dark horses and potential upsets
Suntory Sunbirds are a team that has gone under the radar and will be a dangerous opposition for any side in the tournament. Itambe Minas and Halkbank Spor Kulubu will also be joining the roster of teams along with the Ahmedabad Defenders.
The 2023 edition will mark the debut of an Indian club as the Defenders will be participating in the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship for the first time.
The Thrill of Men’s Club Volleyball
Global volleyball has been majorly dominated by a few superpowers such as Italy, Brazil, and Poland. However, in club volleyball, superstars from other nations also get to show their flair and compete as well as team up alongside big names of the game.
This season, Indian Volleyball players will also be getting exposure on the big stage against the world champions. The competition format, as well as the formula of the club championship, has gone through constant changes to find the perfect fit for the participants. Generally, the winners of all the five club confederations and the host team get to play in the tournament.
Past champions and their legacies
The first edition of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship was contested in 1989, with the aim of making the competition an annual tournament. However, after just four editions, the tournament was suspended between 1993 and 2008.
Italy from Europe and Brazil from South America have been the most successful nations on the global stage of club volleyball. The first edition of the tournament was won by Italy’s Pallavolo Parma, which is also known as one of the oldest and most decorated volleyball clubs in history, at their home venue.
Gonzaga Milano later dethroned the likes of Parma and Sao Paulo to win their maiden title. Consequently, after a couple of title exchanges between Porto Ravenna and Milano, the event was suspended for 16 years.
After its return from a long hiatus, the dominance of Trentino took over the club volleyball tournament. Between 2009 and 2012, the Italian side was unstoppable before Sada Cruzeiro Volei turned a new page in history books by becoming the first team outside Italy to win a prestigious title in 2013.
Since then, only two teams have managed to win the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championships more than three times, that are Trentino (5) and Sada Cruzeiro (3). Last season, Sir Safety Umbria Volley took down the likes of Trentino in the final 3-1 to win their maiden club championship title.
Betting Strategies for Volleyball Enthusiasts
The upcoming tournament to be held in Bengaluru offers the bettors an exciting opportunity to put some wagers on their favorite sides in the annual tournament organised by FIVB.
Understanding team dynamics
Before betting, a bet maker should understand the dynamics of the game. From tournaments to the players, one should be familiar with all the aspects of the game. There are broadly four betting strategies in volleyball:
Betting on results: With confident research and a knack for taking risks, bets are also placed on the outcomes of the matches and outcome bets are the most common types of bets.
Under and Over: Betting on sets is usually seen as a safer strategy for batting in volleyball instead of playing a gamble on the ultimate outcome. For Example: in under and over, a person bets if a team will win more or less than a specific number of sets.
Tournament bets: Getting a step forward from the bets placed on the match results, a bettor can also predict the outcome of the whole tournament. Hence, big risks have bigger rewards.
Most points: Just like basketball, bets can also be placed on a single player in any match of volleyball. A bettor can play a wager on a certain player who can score the most points in a match or the most points in a tournament.
Tips for informed betting
Italy’s Sir Sicoma Perugia, which will be led by Wilfredo Leon are seen as the favorites to win the FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship and defend their title. However, they can face threats from Brazilian side Sada Cruzeiro Volei, who have won the competition on four occasions.
Taking a look at the current form, Suntory Sunbirds are on a nine-match unbeaten run and can potentially upset the top sides. Emotionally, Ahmedabad Defenders will get the support of Indian fans but their chance of a podium finish is highly unlikely.