Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 26, 2015 – It may look like a miracle, when you see a 15-year-old boy leading his country as a captain, but it is a reality for Luis Elian Estrada who captains the Cuban team at the current FIVB Volleyball Men's U23 World Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The Cuban captain is spotlighted at this prestigious FIVB event because he is the youngest of the 144 players who represent the 12 participating team. He was born on March 10, 2000 and is now playing with some players who were born in 1993.
For a player who is seven years younger than the age permitted for this competition, it was amazing to see him take on the role of captain for a team like the Cubans, who successfully lead Pool A of the competition in their ambition to book a semifinal ticket.
Until four years ago, Elian had not been introduced to volleyball, except by some of the matches he saw in his school. He didn't realise that his dreams of representing his country would become a reality so soon.
Elian was recruited by his physical education teacher, who had noticed the young man's unusual height. He chose him for the school team, which he represented from the age of 11. His skills and height allowed him to progress quickly, so that he was soon selected as a candidate for the national youth team.
At 14 years of age, Estrada's measured 1.97m and was selected as a candidate for the U19 boys' team. Early this year, he was selected for the youth and junior teams of Cuba.
He was embarrassed when coach of U23 team Rodolfo Sanchez called him for the U23 team to play in the World Championship in the United Arab Emirates. He didn't believe that his dreams would be realised so rapidly.
Elian Estrada is also a candidate to play at the FIVB Men's U21 World Championship in Mexico next month, where he dreams of representing his country at a second World Championship in the same year at just 15 years of age.
Cuba is known for regularly producing world-class players. Its team in the United Arab Emirates is the youngest in the tournament with an average age of 19.4.