sound planning, with a long-term project put in place for 2012-16,
including a specific search for taller players.
If Nejamkin’s players enjoyed the use of two courts at the recently
opened Olympic Training Centre, their principal learning curve came
elsewhere. They were put in the second division of the national league,
A2, and finished their first campaign in 2011 without a victory. Tours of
Belgium, Hungary and the United States and participation at U19 and
U21 level in the Pan-American Cup provided crucial experience with
over 50 international matches played.
The green shoots of growth were seen at the South American Games
in Medellin 2012, where Chile finished fourth, and they achieved an
identical placing at October’s South American Junior Championship in
Brazil. There they lost the bronze-medal match to Venezuela but just a
few weeks later, in front of friends and family, they bounced back from
a semifinal loss to Argentina to gain sweet revenge.
A delighted Nejamkin said: “We set ourselves the target of playing a
World Championship when we saw the group of players we had. We
didn’t reach the final but the bronze medal and qualification for the
World Cup is a source of great pride.” Understandably so, after a wait
of almost three decades.
Chile have not sent a team to any volleyball
world championship in almost 30 years
Chile captain Dusan Bonacic shows just what
it all means to him as he embraces a member
of his family courtside
I can’t put into words what
I’m feeling, it’s a reward for
all the sacrifices’