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FIVB Men's Olympic Games 2008

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Stars to watch in Beijing: Bulgarian spiker Matey Kaziyski

Matey Kaziyski is set to play a starring role for the Bulgarians at the Olympic Games in Beijing

Lausanne, April 22, 2008 Ė Matey Kaziyski is set to be one of the leading lights for the Bulgarian Menís National Team at the Beijing Olympic Games in August. He is a spiker of devastating talent for his country and an extremely popular athlete who was part of the team that won the bronze medal at the 2007 FIVB World Cup, which booked Bulgaria's ticket for the Summer Games, and bronze at the 2006 FIVB World Championships, both in Japan. A fluent English speaker who plays his Club Volleyball for Italian team Itas Diatec Trentino in Italy, Kaziyski chatted with Volleyball legend Andrea Zorzi as part of the Italian's "Follow Me" blog at the 2007 World Cup.

Andrea Zorzi: Where and when were you born?
Matey Kaziyski: I was born in Sofia in 1984, 23rd September.

Are any other members of your family sports men or women?
My mother and father are Volleyball players. Both played for the Bulgarian National Team.

Did you play other sports?
Well, not professionally, but at school I played a little bit of everything. Basketball, football, I tried different sports because I was in the kind of school in which for three months you train at something, not professionally of course, when I was a young kid so I tried a little bit of judo, even a little bit of archery, horse riding. A little bit of everything.

When did you start playing Volleyball?
Well, it started when I was 9-years-old. It was my first practice with the Volleyball team. I was a little bit too young so I was only practicing and not participating in the team. Then after two years I started to play and I enjoyed it very much, for the junior team of Slavia Sofia. Then, year after year, I played every year in the team and I was one of the six players all the time so it was going well. And at 14 I think I was called for the first time for the Junior National Team, the same year I started to train with the Menís team of Slavia Sofia, and the next year I played my first official game. First, in the Menís team I was setter, then, for a bit, middle blocker, then I was opposite, and after that I realised what I really wanted to be was a reception/attacker so now I am.

Do you agree that the Bulgarians have won less than they should have?
Well, yes, this is a fact we all know because thatís history. Most of the players know that even though we have had a lot of good players we have never won anything, well almost won nothing, through the years. We hope to change that really soon but who knows?

Ö in the meantime Ö
I think we realise that what we are missing is not that we are not good enough players but we miss (something) in our team spirit, that if you can say so our team misses out on cooperation as a team and not as individuals, and I think for the last few years weíve grown up a lot regarding this and thatís why we have had a little bit of better success Ö and I hope that if we manage to fix our problems which are always there, each team has problems, we will manage to do something even greater.

Is there a new generation of up and coming Bulgarian players?
Well, of course, a new generation is coming. This is also a problem every team must face because it comes time when you have to change players and it is a very difficult time for every team. The generation that is coming is a really strong one and I hope that with a little bit of luck, and a lot of work, a lot of bright ideas, and good goals to follow we will manage to make a really strong team for the next few years and become a really good adversary for every team in the top level.

What is your technical priority?
When you go into the aspect of one element, I think our big problem now is the block. But in the game aspect, it is more like defence-attack because in the important moments we manage to (defend) which is very important but we donít manage to realise this as a point for our team, which is very demoralising and we have to work a lot about that. And the other thing is to fix our mistakes in easy balls because we make a lot of these.

Did you improve playing in Russia?
I gained a lot when I was in Dinamo Moscow. It was two years when I saw a lot of Volleyball, I played a lot of very strong games against very strong adversaries and I think I grew up as a player a lot in Moscow.

And why did you go to Italy to play?
Well, I think the two years in Moscow were enough for me and I needed to change and, of course, Italy was the perfect option because of the high-level Volleyball and all the professionalism there and everything, so I decided to move on with my career and with my life and try to improve myself by challenging me with something different and new and I think that this was a right decision for me. And, of course, time had to pass to see if it was good for me or not, but I think for now I made the right choice and Iím feeling good and I hope it will continue till the end.

Is everything as you expected?
No, I cannot say everything is as exactly as I expected because itís a completely new place, completely different from Bulgaria and from Moscow and there is tons of new stuff I had to learn, not only the language and a different country but, you know, the people have a different mentality and everything, but I feel really good because they accept me very well and I feel very comfortable. They are very gentle and very nice people, especially in Trento, especially in the team. I feel great really.

How do you spend your spare time off the Volleyball court?
Thereís not much spare time after Volleyball. Normally I do different things because most of the spare time is connected with Volleyball because I spend a lot of my free time somewhere with the team, so sometimes I like to go out and see new stuff. Itís good and when you change places you can learn more and see more, but of course there is also a rest time when you must stay at the hotel room and just do nothing, no watching the Internet because you have to take your rest to be prepared for the next practice, next game, next travel. Travel really kills us and a lot of problems come through that and we need to be better prepared to deal with that because after you have problems during the game.

Do you have any hobbies?
For now my primary hobby is my computer because itís easy, itís always with me so I donít have to do anything special. I watch movies, play games, go on the Internet, speak with my friends, which is really relaxing from time to time, to just change the atmosphere.

What is the most important victory of your career?
Well, I cannot say whether some victory is more important but just recording all the Finals Iíve played, you know like the small Final in the (2006 FIVB) World Championship was a very important victory. But not only this, it was the whole Championship and every victory counted. It was like the whole experience after this and not just the one victory for the third prize. I think it is important (in every match) to reach a goal or a dream. Itís not just playing the game for winning or something. Itís not like I am some maniac who says, ĎYou have to win, win, winí in every prize but a man has to follow his dreams so I am trying to do so and I am enjoying the time when I am getting closer.

Is sport only a matter of winning or losing?
I think it is but it is not only a matter of winning or losing on the court. There are situations where you lose the score and you lose the game but you win something after all. And it is very important that you register this and that you try to move on and grow up as a player and as a person also.

What are the plans for your future?
For now, I am thinking only short term because a lot of things are approaching and it is important to be focused on them, otherwise you lose concentration.

Do you have a favourite player?
Well, no not really but of course I like a lot of players now and (some) a few years before because I like (it if they do) a certain move. I like to learn from other players. Iím not some kind of follower or something but if someone does something good I like I will try it.

What do you like most in Volleyball?
I enjoy the game itself but lately I have really enjoyed playing defence because I am kind of not so good as a defender, itís not really my strongest part but I like to improve even that because it is important to have everything. So I really like it when I defend well as it gives me pleasure. Not only that, but at the moment these are some of my greatest moments.

How would you like to score the last point of an important game?
Well, I think spiking because it is the easiest way and reliable.

Watch the full video interview between Zorzi and Kaziyski along with a host of other one-on-ones conducted by Zorzi at the FIVB 2007 World Cup at:

Zorzi is one of the worldís most famous Volleyball players. In a glittering career, he won two World Championships with the Italian National Team in 1990 and 1994 along with the silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the FIVB named Zorzi the Worldís Best Player in 1991. Now retired from competitive Volleyball, Zorzi works with the FIVB as a freelance journalist and technical commentator. During the 2008 World League and World Grand Prix and this summerís Beijing Olympic Games, Zorzi will talk to the worldís best Volleyball players and coaches. Watch out for more fascinating Zorzi interviews in the coming months.



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