Mahdi Al-Jarbani: “Wrestling needs more support” [Archives:1998/10/Sports]

March 9 1998

The history of wrestling in Yemen is full of great accomplishments either outside or inside the country. This sport presented many champions throughout the years. Beginning with Mohammed Al-Maqaleh and Abdulkareem Sufian and today with Abdullah Al-Azani, the Yemeni wrestling is a source of pride for all.
Captain Mahdi is one of those who practiced wrestling despite the trying conditions of sport in our country. Moreover, he offers to young wrestlers his experience and skills. One of Mahdi’s achievements is the Yemeni champion Abdullah Al-Azani, who was able to win in many Arabic and International championships. Yemen Times talked with Mr. Mahdi Al-Jarbani.
Q: How did you begin wrestling?
A: I started wrestling in Al-Wahda Sports Club in 1979. I was trained at the hands of Mohammed Saleh Al-Maqaleh, the first one who established wrestling in Yemen, and the one who helped me a lot.
Q: When did you start participating in national and international championships?
A: I participated in all national championships from 1980 until 1993 and I got the first place in all of them. Internationally, I participated in the Palestine Club (1980), the Asian Ninth Tournament in India (1982), Iraq’s International Championship (1985), the Arab Championship in Syria (1986), the Arab Youth Championship in Egypt (1988), the Asia Championship in Japan (1989), and finally I participated in The Arab Championship in Cairo (1990).
Q: What are the best results you achieved in these occasions?
A: I got the bronze medals in Iraq’s Championship, 1985, and in the Arab Championship in Syria, 1986. I got came fourth in the Arab Champs Championship in Egypt, 1988. In the Asia Championship in Japan, 1989, I got 7th position.
Q: How and when did you start training?
A: My Russian coach always advised me to work hard in order to succeed first as a professional wrestler and second as a coach myself. When he left in 1986, I started my profession as a coach.
When Al-Maqaleh left training and went for hang gliding, I took the whole responsibility of training in Al-Wahda Club. I trained many young men and some of them became accomplished champions later on. I trained Adel Al-Materi, Mohammed Doghaish and Abdullah Al-Azani who achieved a lot in many international championships.
I was not content with training by experience. I sought technical qualifications through participating, as a coach, in many training courses. The last course I participated in was the Arab Trainers Course in Cairo 1996.
Q: Have you trained any other clubs beside Al-Wahda Club?
A: I trained the Ahli of Sanaa for one year. Then I trained Al-Majd Club in Sanaa for 6 months. I also trained sports people in Sanaa University for 6 years. Now, I’m training the Central Security Forces and Al-Wahda Club.
Q: How do you succeed in training despite the lack of facilities?
A: The lack of facilities made me use other ways to succeed. I look for business establishments to sponsor and support the athletes. In addition, I talk with the officials I know personally to employ some of the athletes who make good achievements.
Concerning training, I make my plans in a way that I can treat with the assigned limits of time and facilities. Here in Yemen, we usually try to make the athletes psychologically ready for training.
Q: What kind of troubles you come by as a trainer?
A: The government’s support for sport activities is not enough. Lately, a fund for supporting youth was established. But, sport associations are not given enough money. All the money is given to football. This, of course badly effect the other sports such as wrestling. We still don’t have a suitable training place, and need some important equipment, let alone my salary which does not cover even transportation expenses.
Q: In your opinion, how this situation could be improved?
A: The available facilities are not sufficient at all. If the Ministry of Youth and Sport gives more attention to singles games, especially fighting games, the Yemeni player will be able to excel in these games and will acquire the necessary experience.