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Future of Maldivian volleyball uncertain as concerns mount

Ahmed Aiham
06 June 2019, MVT 16:50
Volleyball Association of Maldives (VAM) during a press conference. President of VAM Mohamed Latheef (3R) is seen on the panel. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI / MIHAARU
Ahmed Aiham
06 June 2019, MVT 16:50

Veteran volleyballers raise voices in distress, with claims that the current leadership of the Volleyball Association of Maldives (VAM) has left the future of the sport hanging precariously in the balance.

Reported by local media Mihaaru, multiple athletes lodged the complaints against VAM President Mohamed Latheef to the Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Development Ahmed Mahloof.

Since, a senior official from the ministry has also attested that per the Commissioner of Sports, the matter is currently under investigation led by a three-member committee formulated by the ministry.

Mohamed Latheef was elected president of the association in 2016, after the Sports Commission and Ministry of Home Affairs nullified former VAM President Mohamed Riyaz's successful reelection bid for a third term, citing a flawed electoral process.

Since, VAM has faced stark criticism for poor management of the association, during which then-Vice President Mohamed Ranesh resigned from his post.

Latheef's tenure involved multiple resignations and reappointments to the organization's board of executives.

Renowned coach Mohamed Sharaf, who was involved with Latheef during the early period of his appointment, questioned why individuals no longer stand in support of Latheef.

He revealed that Latheef was initially backed by the Maldivian " volley family".

"There must be a reason for everyone's disengagement", reasoned the international silver medalist.

Moreover, experts in the field have highlighted the lack of youth development programmes and deterioration of national team performances during Latheef's term.

The national team has not secured a victory since the Asian Volleyball Confederation's Central Zone Championship in 2016, in which Maldives managed a third-place podium finish.

In an effort to improve the national team's future performances, two years ago, Latheef initiated a six-member committee. However, committee chair and former coach Mohamed Anee stated that it was developed only for "appearances".

According to Mihaaru, expert sources have claimed that Latheef failed to conduct scheduled competitions in a timely manner and that the general standard of competitions had deteriorated.

Moreover, in 2018, VAM faced backlash over amending the association charter and changing the logo, despite only a single member club being present during the annual general assembly (AGM).

The association also began using the logo prior to receiving approval from the commission.

As highlighted in a report compiled by an observer at the assembly, no members of the media were invited or present during the AGM.

The report also urged that changes implemented during the assembly be thoroughly investigated, adding that certain amendments to the charter were unlawful.

2018 marked half a century since Maldives began practising the sport. Further, volleyball has become the biggest sport in the country that is played extensively by both genders.

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