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April 1, 2020

Professional league only way to promote volleyball in Pakistan: Murad


April 1, 2020

KARACHI: Pakistan’s top professional volleyballer Murad Jehan has stressed that professional league is the only way to promote the sport in the country.

“Professional volleyball league is must. You cannot develop your sport without it. We should have started this a decade ago. We are far behind the rest of the nations,” Murad told ‘The News’ in an interview from his hometown Bannu.

Murad is the top spiker of Pakistan. He recently returned from Oman after representing Sohar Club in the Oman Volleyball League. According to Murad, the league was shortened because of the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic which has rocked the whole world, with thousands of people losing their lives.

“A professional league gives you base. Your youngsters learn from the foreign players. And the most positive thing is that the players earn money which helps them in their career,” said Murad, who along with his skipper Aimal Khan, played superbly in the last Asian Championship in Iran last year.

In that event, Pakistan finished seventh and that was enough for playing qualifiers for Tokyo Olympics. However, the Green-shirts later failed to avail that opportunity to press for Olympics seat because of lack of finances.

And Murad is also not happy with that. “It was unfortunate that we could not play in the qualifiers,” Murad said. Besides playing in Oman league Murad has also the rich experience of playing in the UAE, Lebanon and the Maldives leagues.

Murad said that it is the professional league which keeps the players fit every time. “You know our national camps are held in six or eight months and you need then extremely hard work to get into perfect rhythm. If you have league it will keep you busy throughout and keep you fitter every time and this helps,” he said.

“We should take an immediate start with a small league and I am optimistic we will succeed,” he added. Murad, who plays for WAPDA, has mostly played in the Maldives league and appreciated its effort.

“Maldives is a small country but it has focused on sports development with a huge investment and its volleyball league is fairly good with ample presence of good foreign stuff,” he said.

Murad and his skipper Aimal Khan have also received offers in the past of around 20,000 US dollars from Indian league but both have been unable to grab the opportunity due to numerous issues.

During the Asian Championships in Iran last year, both Murad and Aimal did well for Pakistan and they were offered a contract by a Serbian club but they again could not go due to national commitments.

Besides other issues, Pakistan also lacks volleyball infrastructure and Murad stressed that in every district there should be indoor facilities. “It’s a big issue,” Murad said.

“Look, due to coronavirus issue I am in Bannu. There is no facility here so where should I go?,” he said. “Even our national team has no proper hall for practice. It mostly practises in a hall where there there is no air-conditioner and when we go abroad we play in air-conditioned halls,” he added.

“Besides establishing infrastructure throughout the country we also need to manage international standard equipment so that our players could not face any issue when they go abroad for any assignment,” Murad conceded.

He appreciated Pakistan Volleyball Federation (PVF) chairman Chaudhry Mohammad Yaqoob, saying, he is sincere with the sport. “He is the most sincere person in volleyball family. If all of us work like him then we can promote the sport,” Murad said.

“Pakistan is brimming with immense talent. Even in Bannu you can see a lot of talent in kids,” he said.

Murad said that diet plays a key role in a player’s fitness and in Pakistan this a huge issue. “The diet which we get during camps is of low quality. It cannot help a player regain the energy he loses during training and this is a big issue,” he commented.