Zurich, Switzerland, May 8, 2014 - Since she was eight years old the Algerian setter Fatima Zahra Okazi was thinking of the day when she will be able to play at the highest level of her lovely sport volleyball, but she didn’t realize that when she started her career in 1992 that she will be the key factor of her team in both the World Championships and the Olympic Games and to be one of the most famous volleyball players not only in her country but in the whole continent.
Now the Algerian National team setter is looking forwards to another era when she conducts her team in the Women's Club Championship for the first time.
"I told my colleagues here, we shouldn't play the role of outsiders, we have to fight to prove that we deserve the wild card we gained from the organizer. We want to say that Africa deserves a regular ticket in the World Championship. We are here to do it," Okazi said.
It was a real interesting story because Fatima started as a football player and played already some friendly matches before she shifted to volleyball after watching a match in her club Bejaia.
“From my first day with volleyball I felt that I choose the right sport for my career, I knew that it is suitable to my style and ability,” commented Okazi.
She started playing volleyball in Chlef Club which is one of the famous clubs in Algeria when she was only 10 years old.
“What was exciting that I started in my club as a spiker when I played in the first team in 1995 but quickly my coach saw that I can be a good setter so he shifted me to that position,” remembered Okazi.
The Algerian setter experienced the international life quickly when she played with Bejaia club in the African Club Championship in 1998 in Tlemcen where her team finished fifth. When she became only 12 y old she led the Algerian Youth team in the Youth African Nations Championship in Tunisia and at that time she carried her first gold when she led her team to the crown.
“I was happy to carry a gold medal when I was only 12 y old. I remembered I returned back home and put the medal above my bed to see it every day when I wake up,” continued the young setter.
In the following year Okazi had a more exciting experience when she represented her country in the 2001 FIVB Youth World Championship. In 2002 she added gold to her country when she won the Women Junior African Nations Championship.
“I was happy to represent Algeria in the FIVB Women Junior World Championship in the Dominican Republic in 2003. At that time I felt that we had become more oriented with this world level. The Algerian federation had a good strategy to prepare the young players so in 2005 we went to Kenya for the club championship with two young teams with average age of 18 y,”
“Our golden time started in 2007 when we won our first gold medal for the senior team in the history. It was the Gold medal of the 2007 All Africa Games in Blida. I was weeping while we were cheering the spectators after the final against Cameroon. It was unforgettable moment, but it was the best memory in my life,” she said cheerfully.
The golden era started as Algeria won another gold in their homelands in the next year when they won the African Olympic Qualification for Beijing Olympic Games to represent the continent in this prestigious event. Again Fatima was the key star in this victory. In 2009 Algeria printed their name on the senior African Nations Championship for the first time in the history when they won the title with Fatima coming as the best setter and the most valuable player.
“I was emotional when we went to Japan to play in the biggest volleyball event in the elite, the 2010 World Championship,”
In her social life, Okazi was also successful as she finished the Bachelor degree in commerce and marketing and then another diploma in the media.
She is one of five brothers and sisters in her family. She was a twin with a brother named Abozeed who choose to play Tennis.
“I like to live with my family in Algeria and that was the main cause I refused a lot of offers to play in France, Netherlands and Poland. My family is the essential corner of my life so I had to complete my life between them.”
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