Diaz: I feel at home in Qatar
Volleyball is to Cuba what football is to Brazil. Cuban players bring a certain flavour to the game which is unmatched. Be it their impromptu jig after scoring a point or catch-me-if-you-can style runs following a retrieval or their runaway celebrations after winning a match, they are the ultimate entertainers of the game.
From Lionel Marshall to Osmel Camejo, the Qatar League has been blessed with an array of Cuban players and the latest to join the list is Williams Diaz. The 29-year-old spiker, who joined Police at the start of the season from Italy’s Volley Monza, is giving the sport a new dimension with his bag of theatrics.
A livewire on the court, Diaz is noted as much for his celebrations as for his contributions to his team's play.
In a crucial match against champions Al Rayyan last week, Diaz relieved the tension in the Police camp with his light approach and presence of mind. Over-the-top celebrations after winning a point were followed by animated ear-pinching gestures.
And finally, the win over the champions was celebrated with a chest-bumping exercise and war cry which reverberated inside the Qatar Volleyball Association Indoor Hall.
“I play like this because I love the sport. Volleyball has been my life ever since I was a child. I don’t have any inhibitions and I’m always like this on the court. My team knows that I’m like this and they’re happy. So am I,” Diaz told Doha Stadium Plus Magazine.
In a short span of time, Diaz has broken the stereotype image of Qatar League players who prefer to be serious on the court.
Not the one to let go of an opportunity to have friendly banter with a rival, the 2m-tall player makes sure that he never crosses the line.
“I know that I’m different from other players in the Qatar League. I’m a person of jovial nature and I always approach things with an open heart. There’s no point in being too serious on the court. Sport is meant for enjoyment and relaxation, and you’ve to take it that way. If I see a player in trouble, even if he’s in the opposition, I don’t mind helping him,” added Diaz, who has plied his trade with some of the best-known clubs in Italy and Cuba.
Diaz feels at home in Qatar, as there are many Cubans playing in the league, even though most of them play for different teams.
Al Arabi’s Camejo has already proved his mettle with his stellar performance in the season-opening Association Cup. Diaz will be up against his compatriot on Saturday when Police take on Arabi in an eagerly-awaited contest.
“Cubans, we’re like a family here in Qatar. On the field we may be strong rivals, but we do go out together for dinner on non-match days. Club rivalry doesn’t stand in the way of friendship and family,” he added.
Police, whose best performance in the league was a runners-up finish in 2014, have not lost a single match so far this season and Diaz hopes he can help the team continue in the same vein and has high ambitions for the club.
“We play every day thinking each match is a final. That’s the only way we can raise the bar. The Qatar League is strong with teams like Rayyan and Arabi all having a big history. I want Police to break their stranglehold and if I can contribute to that, I’ll be a happy man.
“It’s all about the right mentality. If you approach each game thinking you can win it, then nothing is impossible. I hope we can break through this season,” he concluded.