Danial Moatazedi, who holds a resemblance to Jason Momoa from the movie ‘Aquaman’, successfully orchestrated Ahmedabad Defenders’ title defence in the Prime Volleyball League season two final on Sunday.
Hair partially tied in a ponytail when on-court, the 6.6 feet tall Iranian was introduced to the league by Calicut Heroes owner Safeer PT. “Safeer, Calicut Heroes owner, saw me play in a tournament in Dubai and asked if I wanted to play in India. Intrigued by the culture, I always wanted to visit two countries, India and China. So, I accepted it, and now I’m here,” Danial told Sportstar.
The soft-spoken middle blocker shocked the commentators in his last league stage match against the Kolkata Thunderbolts when he received a yellow card from the on-field referee Bjarne Schut for yelling profanities. Regretting his move, he said, “It was a heat of the moment action, I was just angry that Kolkata was awarded points for the close call shots due to which we had to take reviews. Instead, it would have been better if we were given the points and they took the reviews.”
Danial also deceived the oppositions with his attacks, resulting in 55 attack points and a staggering 62.50 per cent efficiency rate.
A personal trainer by profession, Danial took up volleyball because “my sister, a volleyball coach, motivated me to start playing the sport when I was 17 and in school as I was tall.”
Coming from a volleyball-loving country, Danial lists the differences between PVL and the leagues back home. For instance, the 15-point format, the super serve and super point are parts of the sport he had never been privy to in his 14-year volleyball career.
Apart from the points system, he also struggled with the practice patterns in PVL. “In Iran, a day before the game, we train, practise for an hour or so, and the morning after the match, we stretch, jog and rest to recover for the next match. Here (PVL), we practise on the day of the match at 7am, and if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you probably would not be able to recover.”
Danial loves the Indian culture. “In many ways, it reminds me of Iran’s old culture, not the new one. I have travelled to several cities like Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kochi, I really enjoyed it,” he said.
The Defenders lost their first and last league games against Hyderabad Black Hawks and Thunderbolts, respectively, to be placed second in the points table after the group stage. However, they bounced back to defeat Calicut 3-1 in the second semifinal. After the league stage, when asked which team he would like to face in the final, Danial had said, “Doesn’t make any difference for me. If we want to be champion, we should be able to defeat all the teams. And I know in the final we will play much better than all the games, I’m sure about that.”
His words eventually came true as Ahmedabad trumped Bengaluru 3-2 despite experiencing a major setback in the third and fourth sets. Danial dedicated his winner’s medal to the women of his country, Iran.
Danial’s cool and calm demeanor has earned him a famous friend outside the sport. “Vafa Hakhamaneshi from Chennaiyin FC — an Indian Super League franchise — is my friend and we are on good terms.” Danial is looking forward to some time off from the game before he gears up to participate in Dubai’s Ramadan tournament next month.
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