Oman clinches silver at Arab U17 volleyball championship

The victorious Oman U17 team celebrate after clinching a silver medal at the 14th Arab U17 Volleyball Championship in Amman, Jordan, on Friday

The future of Oman volleyball certainly looks bright if the latest success is any pointer. In one of the best achievements ever by the national team at an Arab competition, the U17 spikers came up with a sterling display to clinch silver at the 14th Arab Volleyball Championship, which concluded in Amman, Jordan on Friday.

Oman lost to Bahrain in the final 20-25, 14-25, 18-25 but the spikers impressed in their march to the summit clash.

Competing in the eight-nation championships, which featured two groups, Oman, coached by Jamal al Mamari began its campaign on a victorious note when it outplayed UAE 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-17) last Friday.

Placed in Group B that comprised Bahrain and Iraq, Oman struggled to get past Iraq in a tough five-setter, winning 23-25, 26-24, 21-25, 25-19, 18-16. It then lost its third group match to favourite Bahrain 0-3 (13-25, 18-25, 19-25) to finish second in its group.

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Majid al Shibli (left) and Abdullah al Shibli with their individual trophies

Mamari's boys then scored a stunning win over hosts Jordan to book its spot in the semifinals. Oman defeated Jordan 3-1 (25-20, 25-18, 20-25, 25-16 to set up a semifinal clash with Group A topper Saudi Arabia, which had won all its group matches against Qatar, Jordan and Palestine respectively.

Oman put up a splendid display to race past a strong Saudi side in straight sets, winning 25-21, 25-22, 25-19.

In the final, Bahrain, which is preparing for the FIVB Boys’ U19 World Championship, to be held in Bahrain from August 18-27, proved too good for Oman to clinch its third Arab title.

Oman spikers also caught the eye of the experts as two of the talented youngsters were

honoured with individual awards. Majid al Shibli was adjudged the best No 4 (right side attacker) and Abdullah al Shibli was named the best libero of the championship.

The U17 team has been together past the past two years under Mamari and the Oman Volleyball Association (OVA), under the chairmanship of Sheikh Badr al Rowas, has been keen to groom this talented youth team. Last year, the team had won the silver at the GCC U16 championship in Bahrain.

In his remarks to Muscat Daily, on Saturday, Rowas said, “I am thankful to the boys and the coaching staff for such a brilliant result. Congratulations to all of them and it is a proud moment for Oman volleyball.

“It is the first time that any of our indoor national team has won a silver at an Arab championship. We have been on podium at GCC level in the past but this is first time for a national team to claim a silver at the challenging Arab championship.”

“We have high hopes from this team and have been supporting their journey by providing them good exposure. Last year, the boys even featured in our second-division league as we planned to give them experience to play against club teams. I think the young team has a bright future,” said Rowas.

On Saturday evening, the team was given a warm welcome at the Muscat International Airport on their arrival. Rowas along with Fahad al Raisi, director-general at the Ministry of Sports Affairs, and other OVA board members were present to welcome the team.

It has been a rewarding year for Oman volleyball so far, be it the latest silver-medal success or the achievements of Al Salam Club. In March, Salam won the silver at the 36th GCC Clubs

Volleyball Championship in Doha, Qatar. It was also the first time that an Omani club had earned a silver at a regional meet. Prior to that, the only notable feat was a bronze by Saham Club in 2011.

Salam also missed a podium finish when it ended fourth at the 35th Arab Clubs Volleyball Championship that was held in Manama, Bahrain in February-March.

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