Girls volleyball championship final shows high level of skill

getarticleimageservlet.jpgAkad volleyball team celebrates winning Kurdistan>s volleyball league title in Suleimaniya The Kurdish Globe–Erbil
By Zakaria Muhammed
Akad wins the trophy for the seventh year running
Akad beat Sanharib 25-21 in the final game in the girls Kurdistan Volleyball Championship, held at Peshmarga Club’s indoor hall in Suleimaniya, October 11. Even Suleimaniya volleyball fans were amazed with the high level of skill shown in the game between these two rival teams. These teams probably have the most skillful players in Kurdistan.

Akad finished the first set at 25-12 and second set at 25-14. Sanharib was close to finish the third set in its favor, but Akad returned with power, ending the last set of the game with a 25-21 victory.

The participating teams of this year’s Kurdistan volleyball league included Akad, Sanharib, Peshmarga, Brayati, Gara, TaqTaq, Ranya and Koya. Akad, Brayati, Sanharib and Gara reached the Kurdistan championships, which is a playoff stage where four teams play each other after qualifying among eight teams, which are divided into two groups in the first round.

The league trophy and medals were presented by Suleimaniya Governor Bahroz Hama Salih and Kurdistan Volleyball Federation head, Hassan Ali, to winners, Akad, runners up, Sanharib and the third team, Brayati, which defeated Gara in the same day.

“The participating teams this year were very strong and they made the league even stronger than in previous seasons,” said Ali. “Luckily, the teams did not face any serious problems. Peshmarga Club provided the teams with an excellent indoor hall and the referees and observers did a great jobs in managing the league successfully. They were really outstanding.”

Ali disclosed that the KVF, along with Kurdistan Olympic Committee, has already agreed to form a team, made up of Kurdistan’s most skillful volleyball players, to represent the region in international competition.

Observers note that the success of the league is mostly due to the continuous support girls get in Kurdistan, especially in Erbil, where Akad is based.

“It looked like the teams were better prepared this year. That may be because female volleyball teams in the region play not only for fun but to become professional and famous, even abroad.” Zana Hama Rauf, the referee who oversaw the final.

Rauf was pleased that nothing made him upset in managing the match. He said would be happier if more than one team from Suleimaniya participated in the league.

The rivalry between Akad and Sanharib has been strong. So far, they have met each other in finals many times. Akad won this season’s title for the seventh consecutive time. Sanharib, for the last seven years, has been unable to beat Akad in a final, always losing at the last minute.

“This year, the league was strong. My team was good until the final match, when all the discipline fell apart,” said Adel Sadeeq, Sanharib coach. Sadeeq attributed his team’s defeat in the final match to tiredness of the players. “My team’s main problem is that most of the players play more than one game. Most of them play volleyball and handball in addition to volleyball. This makes them exhausted.”

Meanwhile, Akad coach, Munir Ishaq, expressed his happiness as his team won the title for the seventh consecutive year. However, he did not agree with the KVF head regarding the level of this year’s championship. “The level of the championship was somewhat low, because the volleyball clubs were not notified of the contest early enough and failed to prepare well.”

After this championship, Ishaq said Akad will prepare for the Iraqi women’s volleyball competition, which will kick offin November.

Akad was founded in 1992, but due to not having enough players, a few years later the volleyball team was established. The club was also the only one at that time in Kurdistan to have a female volleyball team. The current volleyball team, with several players playing for the Iraqi national team, is preparing to play at Iraqi Championships next month.

Because the club is based in the Christian town of Ankawa, the social fabric has helped families to encourage members, especially girls, to participate in sports.

Most of the players in Akad are from one family. Najeeb Shisha, who used to be a successful volleyball player in Erbil, is an example of someone with several family members playing for Akad. “I am happy that my daughter, Dmyan, is in the main squad of Akad volleyball team. I am even happier as I see her playing and studying as well.”

Shisha believes girls, just like boys, have to be given chance to prove themselves in every aspect of life, including sports, but that it does not have to be at the expense ofacademic study. “I have another daughter, Lilyan, who plays basketball and is also an engineering student.”

Shisha’s daughters and several nieces and nephews, who play different types of sports, have helped Akad club win a host of titles, especially in basketball and volleyball. The achievements Akad is famous for, in Shisha’s view, has a lot to do with the respect the players have for each other and paying attention to instructions from the coaching staff.