Tehran, Iran, June 9, 2017 – “I love volleyball and I live with volleyball.” These are the words of Iran’s charismatic captain Mir Saeid Marouflakrani
, better known by the shorter version of his name - Saeid Marouf.
While these words are said to reflect his personal state of mind, they also apply to the population of Iran, especially when the FIVB Volleyball World League season is on and their favourite squad is up there fighting as equals with the best teams on the planet.
“For us the World League is really important, because it is so important to our people. They follow our results and they care about what will happen to Iranian volleyball in the future,” Marouf said during the first weekend of the 2017 FIVB Volleyball World League, when Iran had to travel to Pesaro and play against the Olympic champions from Brazil, the Olympic silver medallists from Italy and the reigning world champions from Poland.
In the process of learning Iran did start with a couple of defeats, but in their third match last week, despite the absence of injured Marouf, they delivered quite an upset – a fantastic 3-1 victory over the world champs from Poland! Just in time to keep the volleyball fever back at home sparkling at full intensity before Tehran hosts one of the World League tournaments this weekend. With Iran entertaining just as strong a company, including ambitious Belgium, thriving Argentina and reigning World League title-holders Serbia, the volleyball-loving country does indeed live with its men’s national team.
“We have self-confidence. We know that we can achieve something,” said Marouf with the faith that what he and his teammates are doing for their country does matter to the people of Iran.
“You know, I love volleyball and I live with volleyball. I came from a volleyball family. I want to enjoy my job. Without volleyball, I couldn’t do anything in my normal life. A day when we don’t have practice is not a normal day for me. The court is always very special for me.” Only someone with this kind of attitude towards his profession can reach the heights that Saeid Marouf has reached.
Mir Saeid Marouflakrani sets during the 2015 edition of the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Cup in Japan
The 1.89-metre-tall volleyballer is considered one of the best setters in the world. He was named Best Setter of the 2014 World League and a number of other competitions at the world or the continental level during his career so far. Marouf was also declared Most Valuable Player at the 2013 Asian Championship. Furthermore, he was voted Iranian Sportsman of the year for 1394 (2015-2016) of the Iranian calendar. With gold medals from the Asian Championship, the Asian Games and the AVC Cup on the national team level, and from the European Champions League, the Asian Club Championship, as well as the national Super Leagues of Russia and Iran, on the club level, Mir Saeid Marouflakrani is a living sports icon both to his countrymen and internationally.
At 31, he is a true leader for his teammates and a shining example for the young generations. And to everyone’s relief, he is here to stay... “For sure, while I can play, I will play...,” promises Marouf at the end of his interview.