JIMMY - THE LIVING LEGEND

Born on 8 March 1955 in the tiny town of Peravoor in Cannanore district of Kerala, Jimmy George gave new dimensions to volleyball in India. A superb player with an eye for technical perfection, Jimmy was the first player from India to become a professional. He played for Kerala and India as an amateur and as a professional in clubs outside of the country. He was an instant success, legend in his own lifetime, but fate was unkind. He died in a car crash in Italy on 30 November 1987.

Jimmy learnt the primary lessons in volleyball from his father, a university-level player of his time. He played for St. Joseph's High School in Peravoor and was just 16 when he was picked up to play for the State in the National Championship held in Jamshedpur in 1971. But the real player in Jimmy flowered when he went to Devagiri College in Calicut. Together with his brother Jose, he represented Calicut University from 1970 to 1972.

Later as a student of St. Thomas College in Palai and Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), he played for Kerala University for Kerala University for four years and helped the University to win the Inter-University Championships from 1973 to 1976. He captained the University team in 1973, He left his " medical studies in 1976 to join the Kerala Police as Circle Inspector where he later rose to become an Assistant Commandant.

Jimmy represented Kerala in the Nationals till 1979. He took leave from the Kerala Police in 1979 and went to the Gulf to play for Abu Dhabi Sports Club. He left Abu Dhabi in 1982 to join Coletto Club at Treviso in Italy and played for them for a season. He then switched to System Impiani and played for them in 1983-84.

Returning to India he began his second phase of association with the game. He rejoined Kerala Police, played his last Nationals at Kanpur in 1985 and went back to Italy to play for Arrital team. In 1987-88 he signed a contract with Eurostyle-Euroslba team at Montchiari in Brescia and it was during that period that he died in a car crash.

He was adjudged the best player of the Gulf region while playing for Abu Dhabi Sports Club and was rated among the ten best attackers of the world in 1980s while engaged with Italian professional clubs. Jimmy George was awarded the Arjuna Award in 1976. A year before he had received the C.V Raja Award from the Kerala Government.

Jimmy played for India in the Teheran Asian Games in 1974, the Bangkok Asian Games in 1978 and the Seoul Asian Games in 1986, He helped India to win the Bronze Medal at the Seoul Asian Games. He played for India Test matches against the visiting team from Paris in 1978 and captained India against the visiting Japanese team in 1985. He led the Indian squad in the International Volleyball Championship in Saudi Arabia in 1985 and captained the team to victory at the International Volleyball Tournament at Hyderabad in 1986.

On his sudden death in 1987, his friends and relatives joined hands to establish the Jimmy George Foundation in Peravoor and Trivandrum. The Foundation has instituted 'Jimmy George Award' for the best sportspersons from Kerala. The State Government has named an indoor stadium in Trivandrum after him. His admirers and friends in Italy too have dedicated an indoor stadium in his memory at Montichiari, Brescia.

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