Iranian volleyball fans find home court edge in Manila

Levi Verora
Iranian volleyball fans find home court edge in Manila
Despite playing thousands of miles away, the Iranian men's volleyball had a solid core to support them en route to winning Asian Men's Club Volleyball Championships this week

MANILA, Philippines – Aside from the rise of Gilas Pilipinas and the Philippines’ hosting of the FIBA Asia Championship, the 11-day tournament last year will be remembered for the rabid fans who endlessly roared with compassion and patriotism from beginning to end for their teams.

That scene in August of 2013 is reminiscent of the one that took place at the Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championships this past week and a half, as an army of boisterous Iranians came to flock the Mall of Asia Arena, supporting the East Asian squad with organized chants and loud yells.

Sporting their red, white, and green flags, face paint, and energetic aura, the Iranian crowd never failed to draw the attention of people inside the venue, as they came full force to reinforce their team with motivational boost.

Bouncers even had to restrain the patriotic group to prevent them from crossing the restricted area in their semifinals win against China on Tuesday. Luckily for them, Seyed Mousavi obliged to have his photo taken with the bunch of die-hard Iranians.

(RELATED: Iran crowd support at FIBA ‘2nd to PH’)

A home court away from home

Iran wrested the Asian men’s club volleyball trophy for the second straight year, going unblemished over 9 days.

The undying support flowing from the Iranians in attendance made the Mall of Asia Arena their virtual home court, as their nationals lifted the visiting squad with cheering from the stands.

One of them, 29-year-old Amir Asem wrapped himself with a huge Iranian flag and led the pack by shouting instructions.

“We are excited because Iran is a powerful team. We won the basketball and volleyball championships,” he told Rappler.

He cherished the rare opportunity to have their national team play in front of them once again, reciprocating the squad’s efforts with equal amounts of support.

“The support here for volleyball is good. In Iran, the players are really special and the government supports them,” said Asem, who has stayed in the Philippines for four years now.

Bring coverage closer to the world

Doctor Bahman Samadi, 63, has been in the country for the past three years, teaching science in a Manila-based school. When news broke about the Philippines’ AMCVC hosting, Samadi did not waste any time in securing tickets to watch the games live.

Iran's Mikaeil Tajer, Mostafa Sharifat and Mojtaba Mirzajanpour block against Taipei's  Chien-Feng Huang on April 14. Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

He has enjoyed being with a group of familiar faces, and also praised the country for its successful hosting. He also offered a few suggestions to improve the experience the next time the Philippines opens its doors for an international competition.

“We really feel it (is our home court). They brought the flags and other stuff. The arrangement done by Philippine sports committees is amazing. The venue is of international standard,” the professor shared.

“However, I want the commentators to speak in English from time to time since this event is being shown in other countries. A big number of people watch from China and even my own country.”

The professor wishes that Filipino youngsters would be allowed free admission to games, just like the trend in football matches that exposes children to games and facilitates their engagement to the sport.

“The sponsors should bring the youth to the games to encourage them to play. These events should have educational basis,” he added.

“Show the world that this is what the Philippines do in sporting events.”

A lesson sports fans can get from the Iranians: no matter how wild or crazy they got, they brought an energetic aura which made the lower box section their fortress.

From beginning to end, they showed the world just how enthusiastic they are when it comes to rooting for their country – an example other fan bases should take good note of. If they can do it, then others could also cheer or support with the same or even better intensity.

Whenever a sporting event hits Manila, Iran gets a virtual home court edge. In less than a year, the East Asian squad brought home piece of history again in front of their ‘home’ crowd here in Manila. –

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