Iran volleyball team lack competitive atmosphere

TEHRAN, Aug. 06 (MNA) – A former member of Iran’s national volleyball team says there has been almost no competitive atmosphere for playing in the national team in current years.

Reza Safaei, who now plays for Paykan in the Iranian league, says those who play in the league have had no incentive to represent their country in the national team in current years as an almost fixed group of players were always there in the camp of the national team.

Speaking to Mehr News Agency, Safaei pointed to the time when Julio Velasco coached the team around 2011 to 2014 and said “The memory that has always stuck in my mind and give me incentive was how Velasco treated the players.”

“It was in 2011 and I was in the camp of Iran’s U21 team but Velasco invited me to the senior team’s camp. I suffered from a hand injury and had to perform surgery. After the surgery, I clearly remember that when I went to the camp to watch the training, Velasco sat and talked with me. His words were so encouraging that I wanted to start training on the very moment with a hand that had not yet recovered from surgery.”

Iran volleyball team lack competitive atmosphere
Reza Safaei preparing to serve for Paykan

“In that time, we had two powerful teams and no player could feel safe four his presence in the main squad. All the players, be it the experienced or younger ones, were competing to wear Team Melli jersey,” he said, adding, “A good incentive could be felt among players but I can say for sure that players of the Iranian volleyball league have had no incentive to be in Team Melli squad in recent years as a certain number of players were always there in the camp.”

“Unfortunately, the national volleyball team failed to achieve good results at the Tokyo Olympics. Several young players have been unveiled recently. I hope that we can help the team with more calculated plans so that the good results of the past years would be achieved again,” he said.

“All in all, I wish success for the team and hope that Iran’s volleyball could return to its heyday.”

The Iranian volleyball team failed to advance to the knock-out round of the Tokyo Olympics last week. Vladimir Alekno’s team started the Games on a high note and defeated world champion Poland 3-2 and next overpowered Venezuela 3-0 but in the next three matches, they conceded three losses to Canada, Italy, and Japan.

Experts point to the need to implement a change to the generation of volleyball players in the national team.

Interview by Sanaz Soleiman-Abadi

Translated by Mohammad Ali Haqshenas

MAH/5273704

News Code 177005

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