In all fairness, the Kazakh under 19 teen girls’ volleyball team would hardly attract anyone’s attention beyond the obligatory mention of the team and perhaps a photograph of them being squashed like bugs by their rival Chinese girls’ team. That point seems to be forgotten due to the arrival of 18-year-old Sabina Altynbekova to the team. The dark haired brown eyed teen has looks that are anime-like giving her an almost overnight following of fans. In fact, one sample sketch of the teen “anime-mated” might as well be an actual photograph of her because she truly looks like a living anime character.
Now, newspapers feature photograph spreads of her that are at times 10 pages long. The fact that she’s a volleyball player is hardly the issue. In fact, it is really just the means to capture her in print. Her own selfies of her puckering up amid a smile are totally anime-like and have gone viral. Fans are so enchanted by her beauty that they have set up social networking sites devoted to showing all things Altynbekova. However, she is now asking her throngs of followers to abstain from creating such websites.
In fact, a backlash is building up against her fans because their only fixation is to ogle her. The venerable Kazakh paper Vesti was quoted as castigating her fans for attending the games simply to ogle her while ignoring the actual game and the other players. Obviously, some of Altynbekova’s teammates are getting pretty catty about her superstar status with the audience. Her head coach also said that it is impossible to manage the team like this. For her part, Ms. Altynbekova wants to be known as a volleyball player and nothing else. Good luck with that. Despite the criticisms and pleas to cease, her fan base is nowhere near growing weary of looking at her.
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“It is impossible to work like this, the crowd behaves like there is only one player at the championship,” Nurlan Sadikov, coach of the junior national team of Kazakhstan told the local news website vesti.kz.