Players in action during a Volleyball Championship match of the 10th Nad Al Sheba Sports Tournament.
The defending champion Emperor made a perfect start with a 3-1 win over Al Shababi as the much-awaited Volleyball Championship of the 10th Nad Al Sheba Sports Tournament began amidst the presence of global stars.
Held under the theme ‘Limitless Abilities’ and organized by the Dubai Sports Council (DSC), the NAS Sports Tournament is the biggest event of its kind in terms of participation and prize money, and has been held every year in the Holy Month of Ramadan since 2013 at the iconic Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex.
Eight teams are in the fray for the coveted volleyball title and have assembled a sizeable contingent of international stars to bolster their ranks and battle for top honours.
Featuring international stars representing 37 nationalities, the presence of top stars including Christian Fromm, Arash Dosanjh, Marteen van Garderen, Danielle Mazzone, David Fiel, and Amin Esmaeilnejad lighted up the opening day of the Volleyball Championship.
Emperor, one of the strongest teams with a squad comprising German, Australian, Dutch, and Iranian stars, started strongly and registered an easy 25-16, 20-25, 25-17, 25-13 win against Al Shababi in one hour and 39 minutes.
Al Shababi’s Beninese player Daouda Yacoubou top scored with 13 points, while Emperor’s Libyan player Ahmed Ikhbayri was adjudged the best player of the match.
German star Fromm, who is competing in Emperor colours, expressed delight over his participation in the NAS Sports Tournament.
“I urge the audience to come every day and enjoy viewing the fiercest competitions in the volleyball event,” said Fromm, who led Germany to many European Championship crowns.
Netherlands Van Garderen, winner of the FIVB Club World Championship, said: “This is my first experience playing in Dubai and participating in the wonderful Nad Al Sheba sports tournament.
“I loved the atmosphere of the tournament and enjoyed playing. Our team’s (Emperor’s) level was excellent in the first match and we are happy to win it.”
Dosanjh, a member of the Australian Australia national team and winner of many titles for the country, was happy with the team’s first win and stressed that the team would perform better in the upcoming matches to claim the title.
In another match, Fahood Zabeel started their campaign with a 3-1 victory over HMS. Fahood Zabeel started well and won the first set 25-17, then strengthened its advantage by winning the second 25-20. In the third, they were taken aback by HMS, and the latter dominated it by winning 25–23. Their joy was short lived as, riding high on Mohammad Sadeghi and Remzan Sohabti’s superb performances, Fahood Zabeel wrapped up the match after winning the last set.
Ukraine’s Tupchii Vasyl the top scorer for winners with 23 points.
Osama Gargash, Vice President of the UAE Volleyball Federation, lauded the Nad Al Sheba Sports Tournament and the high levels of competition which ensure it remains at the forefront of sporting events in the month of Ramadan in which everyone is keen to participate.
“The unwavering support of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council, has played a significant role in raising the value and level of the NAS Sports Tournament.
“The NAS Sports Tournament has also helped in making volleyball popular, and in order to accomplish this goal, the federation has taken a number of measures, including the decision to expand the number of professional players, which has improved the technical level of the game this season in comparison to last,” he added.