Dubai: Off the court, they are best of friends. But once the Anan brothers from Bahrain get on court, they are a completely different duo.
Late on Thursday, Nasser Saleh Anan and Mohammad — three years his junior — were on either side of the net for the first time-ever in their career as professional volleyball players. And it was the older brother coming away triumphant as his F3 team defeated stablemates F3 ‘A’ in the volleyball final of the Sixth Nad Al Sheba (NAS) Sports Tournament.
The final was a close affair with neither team giving away anything. But in the end, there could be just one champion and that went to the Nasser Anan-led side as his F3 won 3-2 (16-25, 25-23, 25-21, 22-25, 15-13) to lift the trophy from Saeed Hareb, General Secretary, Dubai Sports Council (DSC).
Nasser is the second of three brothers. The eldest Jassam — born in the UAE — is a footballer with Al Muharraq Club, and it was Nasser’s exploits with club and country that led the youngest of the trio following in his footsteps at Al Ahli Club. “As far as I can recollect this is the first time that we have played against each other during our professional careers. It was a weird feeling to have him on the other side of the net, but then I gradually got used to the idea that we are players first and then brothers,” Nasser told Gulf News.
“Honestly, going into the final I really didn’t feel any sort of pressure that we were in separate teams. In sport, someone has to win and someone has to lose. So I was OK with anything,” the 25-year-old Nasser added.
Their affinity as brothers couldn’t have been better seen when the younger Anan sprained his right ankle midway through the third set. Nasser was the first one rushing to his side to ensure that his younger brother’s injury was not too serious.
Mohammad — also known as ‘Johnnie’ among the volleyball fraternity — returned to a thunderous applause from the crowd — with his F3 ‘A’ still trailing 11-14. “Finally, we are brothers and as the older one I am supposed to take responsibility for him,” Nasser related.
“Playing with him is such a delight as we help each other while on court. Perhaps in the next five years I will ease into a coaching career and things will be different as I can see Mohammad play on. But till then we will enjoy each other’s company on and off the court,” he added.
The loss left Mohammad tearful and in pain. “We could have won, but it was just not our day,” he lamented.
“That short period of sitting out due to my ankle injury was painful and the other team managed to bounce back. I think that was the turning point of the match,” he added.