India might have missed the world champions' tag by a whisker in the World Under-19 Volleyball tournament in Thailand, but coach G.E. Sridharan said the performance has established the country's potential in the game at the international level.
"No doubt it is quite disappointing to lose in the final despite putting up a brave fight, but our performance has made the world aware of what we can do in future," Sridharan told reporters in the Capital soon after the arrival of the team from Thailand.
India, who started as underdogs in the championship, stunned several higher ranked teams including Brazil in the league stage of the competition before losing the final.
Though India put up a spirited performance in the final and even took the lead in the first two sets, they faltered at the end to lose the match 1-3 against Brazil.
"You cannot afford to make mistakes against teams like Brazil who have won the title six times so far. Though we played really well to beat Brazil in the league match, unfortunately we made a few errors in the final which proved decisive in the end," said the coach.
The team was accorded a warm reception on their arrival here in the afternoon and the Volleyball Federation of India president Sivanthi Adityan and secretary general K. Murugan flew in from Chennai to welcome the players.
Sridharan attributed India's fine show in the championship to hard work and said the result could boost the game in the country.
"The boys had worked hard for the championship and they put in their best effort there. All played to their potential and it was a complete teamwork.
"I hope the showing will definitely boost the morale of the players and the game in a big way in the country. Hopefully people will show more interest in the game after this."
Captain of the side Rathish Nair lauded the performance of spiker Sanjay Kumar and S. Kamaraj, who was adjudged the best setter in the competition.
"All played well but these two contributed immensely in our progress to the final. We played well in blocking, attacking and serving but Kamraj proved that he is the best setter in the world at the moment," Nair said.
He also said the second-place finish was just the beginning of a glorious future.
"We are keen to take the game to new heights and I am confident that we have the potential to do so. Beating many formidable opponents in Thailand was not just a fluke. It was the outcome of a lot of hardwork, dedication and determination."