No team in the world has stirred the waters of Volleyball in the last ten years more than the Team of Yugoslavia. When Yugoslavia appeared in the qualification rounds for the European Championships in 1995, no one expected the team to finish third after many years of sanctions in the sports.
It seems, after all, that this third place was only the beginning of brilliant results. Not even the oldest of Volleyball fans can recall when one team defeated Italy and Russia in the semi-finals and finals.
But that is only a fact evoking the power, the will, and the quality of the Yugoslav Team. Led from the bench by a professionally tranquil Zoran Gajic, and on the court by the sure moves of the Grbic Brothers, the fatal services of Vujevic, elected best server in the last World Championships, the stopping blocks of Geric and Mešter, and in attack the devastating spikes of one of the best young Volleyball players in the world, Ivan Miljkovic, the Yugoslav Team stands at the very top of the world Volleyball.
In 2002, Veselin Vukovic replaced Zoran Gajic on the bench. In the 2003 World League- for the first time with its new name – Serbia and Montenegro lost in the final against Brazil.
In 2005, Serbia and Montengro had the great honour of organising the World League Finals. In the incredible final in front of 18'140 spectators in the Belgrade Sports Hall, the host was beaten by Brazil. Ivan Miljkovic was nominated MVP and best server of the tournament, thus becoming the first player in the World League history to be crowned MVP four times (2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005).
The 2006 World Championships was the last competition played by the National team of Serbia & Montenegro. Starting from January 1st, 2007 the National Team of SERBIA will try to keep on with this great success (15 medals in 11 years).
Igor Kolakovic replaced Ljuba Travica on the bench of the “Blue Team” just before the 2006 World Championships, after assisting him for three years.
Kolakovic was born on June 4, 1965, in Podgorica, where he actually started his playing and coaching career. He played for the VC “Buducnost” of Podgorica and “Partizan” of Belgrade from 1979 until 1997, when he became Head Coach of the Podgorica Team. He played as a setter, and in 1997 he was one of the most experienced players in the team.
As VC “Buducnost” was looking for a coach, Kolakovic accepted this challenge and practically came to sit on the bench right from the court.
- Setter is practically the ideologist of the game and we usually say he is the coach on the court. I accepted the offer and never regretted it. There is a significant difference between being on the court and on the bench. On the court, you are a player who gives all to the team. As a coach, you do not think of yourself, you think of the team as a whole. It is a more complex job, way of thinking, as you must consider everything: organization of training, matches, competitions, events…, explained simply Kolakovic.
It is worth noting that Igor’s wife, Sandra, is the coach of the Serbian Women’s National Handball Team, and former handball National Team player.
- We often speak about sport in general, but neither Sandra nor I discuss just volleyball or handball. We do exchange our experiences, but do not go into the details of each sport.
From his playing career, he stresses the two double crowns (Championships and Cup), he won with VC “Partizan”, "because of the way we lived, worked, played, had fun”. His specific emotions, when speaking of his coaching career are related to the first of the two titles on the bench of his VC “Buducnost”. In the National Team of Serbia and Montenegro he spent three years as Assistant Coach to Ljubomir Travica.
- The quality of this Team is that they all respond when they are called to take part in National Team events. It is obvious that in other sport the cult of "playing for the National Team" slowly disappears. To this moment, no volleyball player ever refused to play for the National Team, so that, together with the players' and everyone else's to win all these trophies, that is the greatest quality of the “Blue Team” – continues Kolakovic.
The debut on the bench of the same “Blue Team” for Kolakovic was in the World Championships in Japan, and he will continue with his work in 2007 and 2008.
- The challenge is enormous and the aims are always the highest possible when we are speaking of the National Team of Serbia. It would be absolutely extraordinary if we entered the contest for a medal in the next competititions - realistically added Kolakovic.
- In our C Pool, except for Egypt, there are teams from the very top of world volleyball, like Russia and Cuba. In my opinion, our group is quite fitting, but we will try to reach the Final Six tournament. – explained Kolakovic.