Dubai: Sitting as a commentator during the course of the 2015 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Under-23 World Championship, Dubai-born Mohammad Sagheer Sabith visualised himself on court playing as the hosts ended their campaign at the bottom of the standings alongside Mexico.
Sabith’s dreams seemed elusive at that time, but today, the 23-year-old can hope of donning the UAE colours after the UAE’s ground-breaking decision last year to allow expatriates to represent the country in sport. The Federal National Council (FNC) ruling allowing expatriates to represent club and country has opened a sporting path for many wherein people born and brought up in the country can go on to represent the UAE in all sports.
“I’ve waited for this day for seven long years,” Sabith told Gulf News after his Fohood Zabeel team crashed to a 3-2 defeat against Surprise on the opening night of the volleyball tournament at the seventh Nad Al Sheba Ramadan Sports Tournament, late on Wednesday.
A born setter, who is equally versatile in defence and wing, Sabith started playing volleyball watching his dad Sagheer — a familiar face on the volleyball circuit in the UAE and back home in the Indian state of Kerala. Over the past 12 years the youngster has worn the Al Nasr Club colours, and more recently made a switch to capital club Al Jazira with a better future in mind.
Joining Sabith on the Fuhoud Zabeel roster are fellow Indians Azeez Thyambaath, Mohammad Ramrod Hydros, Shameem Abdul Hameed and Shameem Asari Parambath. “For the past few years I used to come here to Nad Al Sheba and wonder when players like me would be allowed to participate in this competition. Finally, when they cleared the way for us to play here, it seemed more like a dream as we stand to benefit so much from this experience alone,” Sabith said.
The first step taken, Sabith is hopeful of bigger and better things in his sporting career in the country of his birth. “I wish I could have played for the UAE during the U23 tournament in 2015,” said. “As a commentator for the FIVB I could see how I would have fitted into various roles on the court while helping the UAE do well at the international level. I didn’t get the opportunity then, but in the near future, perhaps in the next four to five years, I can definitely see myself in the UAE colours.
“The UAE will benefit. The sport will benefit. And most importantly, the UAE will be in a much better position to aspire for strong results in various regional and international events just like some of the other neighbouring countries who had opened up the sporting sector a few years back. On my part, I am willing to work hard and give my best to serve volleyball and the UAE in the years to come.”