Action during the volleyball event during the NAS Sports Tournament. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The defending champion Emperor made a perfect start with a 3-1 win over Al Shababi as the much-awaited Volleyball Championship of the 10th Nad Al Sheba Sports Tournament began amidst the presence of global stars.

Held under the theme ‘Limitless Abilities’ and organized by the Dubai Sports Council (DSC), the NAS Sports Tournament is the biggest event of its kind in terms of participation and prize money, and has been held every year in the Holy Month of Ramadan since 2013 at the iconic Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex.

Eight teams are in the fray for the coveted volleyball title and have assembled a sizeable contingent of international stars to bolster their ranks and battle for top honours.

Featuring international stars representing 37 nationalities, the presence of top stars including Christian Fromm, Arash Dosanjh, Marteen van Garderen, Danielle Mazzone, David Fiel, and Amin Esmaeilnejad lighted up the opening day of the Volleyball Championship.

Strong team

Emperor, one of the strongest teams with a squad comprising German, Australian, Dutch, and Iranian stars, started strongly and registered an easy 25-16, 20-25, 25-17, 25-13 win against Al Shababi in one hour and 39 minutes.

Al Shababi’s Beninese player Daouda Yacoubou top scored with 13 points, while Emperor’s Libyan player Ahmed Ikhbayri was adjudged the best player of the match.

German star Fromm, who is competing in Emperor colours, expressed delight over his participation in the NAS Sports Tournament.

“I urge the audience to come every day and enjoy viewing the fiercest competitions in the volleyball event,” said Fromm, who led Germany to many European Championship crowns.

Netherlands Van Garderen, winner of the FIVB Club World Championship, said: “This is my first experience playing in Dubai and participating in the wonderful Nad Al Sheba sports tournament.

“I loved the atmosphere of the tournament and enjoyed playing. Our team’s (Emperor’s) level was excellent in the first match and we are happy to win it.”

Dosanjh, a member of the Australian Australia national team and winner of many titles for the country, was happy with the team’s first win and stressed that the team would perform better in the upcoming matches to claim the title.

Meanwhile, the matches in Wheelchair Basketball competition got underway at the Dubai Club for People of Determination.

Department of Finance Dubai (DoF) overcame Dubai Courts 23–22 in a thrilling match. In the second match in Group A, the Dubai Police GHQ team drubbed Dewa 35-15, thanks to the brilliance of their Egyptian professional players Ashraf Abu Zeid, Jamal Al-Badrawi, Mohammed Al-Hamid, Badr Ibrahim, Rashid Khalfaeirn and Hamad Awad.

RTA Dubai opened their campaign in Group B by defeating Ability Life 20-8. Dubai Municipality outlasted the Community Development Authority team in an exciting match. Mohammed Al Zarooni delivered an outstanding performance in the team’s victory.

Thani Juma Balragad, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Dubai Club for People of Determination, stressed that the NAS Sports Tournament with the theme Limitless Abilities was launched for people of determination.

Padel tournament

Meanwhile, Ruben Rivera and Andrea Mercadal reached the final of the FIP Gold Category competition, the Padel Championship. They defeated Raúl Marcos and Jose David Sanchez 6-2, 6-4 on Saturday.

They set up a title showdown with Benjamin Tesson and Victor Mena, who beat Mario Ortega and Carlos Marti in another semi-final.

The round of 16 competitions of the U-16 Junior Championship were also held yesterday (Saturday), and among the results,

In the U-16 Junior Championship, Abdullah Ali Ali and Mohamed Ali Ali qualified for the quarter-finals after beating Falah Al-Sharafi and Khaled Al-Sharafi 6-0, 6-0.

Ahmed Al-Hashemi and Issa Ahli and Faris Al-Muhairi, and Fahd Al-Houli also advanced to the quarter-finals after winning their matches comfortably.