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Positional change provides Egypt’s Ahmed Said with path to U21 World Championship

 
Egypt may have fallen narrowly short in their quest to win the Men's Junior African Nations Championship when they lost to Tunisia in the final, but there were two silver linings to go with their silver medals.

Firstly, Egypt’s second place finish ensured that they qualified for this year’s FIVB Men’s U21 World Championship in Turkey. And then there was the emergence of promising opposite Ahmed Said, who served notice of his talent and likelihood of becoming a fixture in Egypt’s national teams for years to come.

The Championship was Said’s first taste of international volleyball, following a late call-up to the U21 team by coach Gaber Abdel Aty three months before the tournament. Although Said was integrated into the team as an opposite spiker, it wasn’t always that way. He started out as a libero, but after a growth spurt when he was 17, he switched positions and hasn’t looked back since.

"I was shorter than my other colleagues when I started playing for the mini-volley team so my coaches advised me to play as libero as it was the most suitable position for me,” he said. "I greatly benefitted from playing libero for many years and have been well trained to receive and dig the ball better than any spiker. My coach at Sharkia Club asked me to play as outside hitter to replace an injured player one day. I played my best volleyball in that match and since then I decided to leave the libero role and concentrate on my new position."

The change of position has been a test of Said’s mettle, but he has responded by working hard to develop the physical requirements and to learn about the all-round technical aspects of playing spiker.

"I was training more than my colleagues,” Said added. “Every day after the training session, I would train alone with my jumping training to improve my performance as a spiker. My coach was happy to see me jumping better than the taller players and it was a great boost for me. I won a place in the first team of my club and this has given me a lot of experience.”

Said admitted that he was surprised by his call-up to the U21 national team, but he responded with some impressive performances in Tunisia and now he hopes to take them onto the world stage in Turkey in August.

"It was a great emotion for me to be selected for the national team and I made sure that I did my best to be an important part of the team, not just another member,” he said. "Although we lost to Tunisia in the final of the African Championship, I feel happy to qualify for the World Championship though I know we have a lot of work to do ahead of it."


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