Dubai: “There’s something special here,” Cuba’s Fernando Ramos Hernandez said as he led his Dubai 2021 team to a well-contested 3-1 win over Surprise in the volleyball final of the Seventh Nad Al Sheba (NAS) Ramadan Sports Tournament at the Nas Sports Complex.
Ramos, who plays as a professional for Emma Villas Siena in the challenging SuperLega, Italy’s top-level clubs championships, tore off his shirt and ran towards the spectator stands where his dad, Ramos Sr, stood cheering his son’s feat.
“It’s been me and my dad from the time I started playing volleyball,” Ramos Jr told Gulf News after Dubai 2021 had fought back from a one set deficit to win 24-26, 25-22, 25-21, 25-21 against the Surprise team. “He is the pillar that I lean on. Even from the crowd, and especially when things are not going in my favour, I need to just look at him and he directs me in his own special way.”
The father-son combination is so strong that both make it a point to travel together. “He (Ramos Sr) attends my training sessions and he’s there at every match. He’s known me the best. We are not just a father and son. We are friends on and off the court. And when he tells me something, I listen simply because that’s years of experience talking to me,” the Dubai 2021 star added.
In fact, Ramos Sr was a receiver for the national team of Cuba, something that prompted the 29-year-old to follow in his dad’s footsteps. In 2009, Ramos Jr was called up to the national squad and the 6.4ft player didn’t disappoint as Cuba picked up the top scorer award at the 2011 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup held in Japan.
However, internal bickering within the Cuban Volleyball Federation led to the promising player moving to Italy where he currently resides plying his trade as a professional. “Both of us would love to see the internal problems sorted out. I would love to return to the national squad again, but it’s simply not possible at this moment,” Ramos Jr said.
“I’ve got offers to join other national teams (such as Brazil, Poland, Russia), but if I ever play for a national team it will be Cuba.”
This is the second time for Ramos at this annual tournament after his team had lost in the final on the first occasion. “This final is special also because of that. I have waited for two years to get here, and to do it before my dad makes it all the more meaningful,” Ramos Jr added.
Winners of the title in 2015 and 2016, and also last year as the F3 team, Dubai 2021 lost a close first set and were trailing 11-15 in the second, but fought back to level the scores at 21-21 and shifted gears to win the next three sets and the title for a winner’s cheque of Dh600,000 from Shaikh Hasher Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, Director General, Dubai Department of Information and President of Tennis Emirates.