Lausanne, Switzerland, April 18, 2013 - The year 2012 was a particularly excellent one for the Brazilian national women’s team, as they took home gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games. But can the Brazilian team continue their domination of the sport – especially at this year’s World Grand Prix? FIVB.org asked former national team player, Virna Dias for her thoughts.
"Brazil’s Olympic gold at the women’s volleyball competition in London 2012 was a highly satisfying end to the players’ many years of hard work. And after such a feat it is normal for everyone to ask, ‘So where to now for the Brazilian women’s team?’ “I know from experience that the period just after such a big win is often more of a rollercoaster ride than the lead up to the event, as you suddenly find yourself looking for new goals to reach.
The Brazilian women’s team is now in state of transition and coach Zé Roberto will no doubt be looking to give Sheila, Jacqueline and Fabiana a bit of a rest after five years of rigorous training.
But the choice of the new team is now crucial if Brazil wants to continue its standing in the World Grand Prix table. The competition is set to get more intense as more countries enter the World Grand Prix this year, which is why our coach needs to have the courage and audacity to make choices that will be best for the team.
One thing is for sure, there is now the opportunity to bring in some of Brazil’s up and coming players like Gabi, who at 18 has a bright future ahead of her. The trend after an Olympic cycle is to change only parts of the team but I do believe that Zé Roberto should invest in a new group of young players for this season’s Grand Prix with an eye on the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
We also have Natalia and Priscilla Daroit who both have a good chance of making the selection. Having already demonstrated a high level of skill, I see no difficulty in these young players making the leap into the senior team.
I was pleased to see that Zé Roberto has been reappointed coach of the national team and I am sure he will make all the right decisions to ensure that we continue to stand out among our competitors.
Words cannot describe my admiration for this man who has taken the Brazilian team to a triple Olympic win and his technical team of Paulinho Cocco and Zé Elias, who have accompanied him for years. But Zé Roberto’s greatest asset is that he is very sensitive and knows how to manage a team of 12 women! Under his leadership we have a good chance of winning this year’s Grand Prix as well as next year’s World Championship.
Campinas, my home town, will host a stop on this year’s Grand Prix and I am looking forward to crossing paths with some of my former on-court companions. While I believe the increase in the number of participating teams favours the European countries, it is still a positive step in the right direction because it gives more countries the chance to participate at the international level.
I can feel that this is going to be a good year for the Brazilian women’s team and I wish them all the best with their training in the months ahead.”
Virna Dias is a former Brazilian national team player and three-time Olympian. She won bronze at the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Games and finished fourth at the 2004 Athens Games. Virna also won the 2004 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix and clinched silver in 1999, where she also claimed the MVP, Best Receiver and Best Scorer awards. She was also a FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Cup silver medallist in 2003.
Lausanne, Switzerland, February 15, 2013 - After taking the US women’s team to a medal victory at the London Olympic Games, Hugh McCutcheon announced his decision to leave US Volleyball to coach the University of Minnesota’s women’s volleyball team. FIVB.org recently had an opportunity to sit down with him and find out all about this move and his views on the current coach of the US women’s team, Karch Kiraly.
I’ve been asked many times about what motivated me to make the move from international to collegiate volleyball.
After the Beijing Olympics there was a strong sense of closure to my journey with the US men’s team as we’d achieved every goal we had set for ourselves. I had been with the team for seven years, assisting them in Athens and then coaching them in Beijing. I was interested in a new challenge and wanted to see what would happen if we took some of the coaching principles that we’d used with the men and applied them to the women’s team. It was a bit of risk but it was an amazing journey.
After the London Olympics the move to collegiate volleyball seemed natural. The number of men playing college volleyball in the U.S. is very small unlike the number of female athletes, which is much greater. If we were going to build a model of sustainable success it was going to be with the women. I was interested in investing in a process that had a 20 year vision instead of the shorter four year cycles that we seem to have been working in previously.
I feel fortunate that Karch Karily was interested in taking over the US women’s team after me. As a player Karch was so good at reading the game and he was great at making his team mates better. Having had the opportunity to work with him, I now feel qualified to vouch for him as a coach and as a man. I know that he’ll lead the team well and I’m very happy he agreed to take on the job and continue the work we been doing. Having Karch as coach means that the team will have some continuation of the philosophy that has been in place for the past four years.
It has only been five months since I left international volleyball to take up my new post with the Gophers at the University of Minnesota. I’m not sure if I’m far enough away from the Olympic experience to reflect on what it means. But I can say that, having been on both sides of the Olympic final, I don’t have any immediate regrets. At the London Olympics, we did everything we could to win. At some point that has to be enough.
Will I go back to coaching international sport? I don’t know - you can never say never. I think I left at a time when things could get interesting. Having more teams in the World Grand Prix, for example, is great for more countries to have chances to play, especially at the start of a new quadrennial when everyone is laying the foundation for the next Olympics. Also being able to separate the teams by ranking ensures a higher level of competition, and I think it is important to keep the quality of competition as high as possible.
I have strong positive feelings about the international volleyball and I may decide to return to it. But for now my decision to get into college coaching seems good and it’s proving beneficial for my family and my work-life balance.
Hugh McCutcheon a native of Christchurch, New Zealand, is the former head coach of the US men's national volleyball team, the former head coach of the US women's national volleyball team, and the current head coach of the University of Minnesota’s women's volleyball team. McCutcheon led the US men’s team to a World League title and an Olympic gold medal in Beijing and the women’s team to three Grand Prix titles and an Olympic silver medal at the London Games in 2012.