Rotterdam, the Netherlands, June 27, 2015 – Overwhelmed, nervous and not sure whether to smile or cry. Moroccan duo Ikram Ettayfi and Mahassine Siad had a lot of emotions going on after their debut at the FIVB World Championships on Saturday in Rotterdam.
The 25-year-old girls lost 2-0 (21-8, 21-2) against the experienced Czech pair Kristyna Kolocova and Marketa Slukova in the Rotterdam harbour stadium, with the stunning ss Rotterdam in the background.
The World Championships are the first big event for Ettayfi and Mahassine, in daily life a gym employee and accountant. They don’t have any previous World Tour experience, but they won the African Championship this year, defeating Nigeria in the final.
Participating in the World Championships is a huge thing for them. “The first time we heard about the World Championships it was a dream to participate, but now it’s actually reality”, Ettayfi said. “It has been a great experience so far, to see the level of the other teams. Next time we will have a better idea what to expect.”
Both girls were very disappointed about their own performance. Ettayfi: “We were very nervous for our first match and we are not at all content with the level we played. We can do much better than this.”
The Moroccan duo prepared for the World Champs with one of the best coaches around: Spain’s Xavier Bosma, silver medallist at the Athens Olympic Games. Ettayfi: “We went to Spain for a training camp and we learned a lot from Xavi.
Unfortunately, right before the start of the World Championships in the Netherlands the girls were called back to Africa to participate in the African Volleyball Championships in Kenya, which interrupted their preparation.
But it was not only nerves and preparation that was holding them back on Saturday, Ramadan plays a part in it too. Muslims are supposed to abstain from drinking and eating during daylight in the month of Ramadan. According to the Islam it teaches people discipline, stamina and self-control.
It also means that the girls have to perform on a high level without proper fuel. “According to our religion we must do this”, Mahassine explains. “There is the possibility of exception for athletes, but I don’t want to. I want to do the fasting, no eating, and no drinking. And at the moment I am fine, I feel normal. My body is ok.”
Despite the disappointment over their performance today, Mahassine is looking forward to their next matches. “We hope that we can play our level. We want to do better. We want to show the other teams and the fans our level, what we can do, because this morning we didn’t. We owe it to our bosses too, who gave us the opportunity to participate at this big competition.”
Meanwhile they are enjoying their stay in Rotterdam. Ettayfi: “It’s a very nice country, the people from the organization, the players, they are all very nice. And it’s the first time we have been on a ship that’s a hotel too.”