Martin Laciga: It's time to pass the ball to younger players
Taking the decision to stop playing professional beach volleyball was harder than ending my career itself. Although people had started talking about my retirement two or three years ago, I have always been so involved and happy playing my sport that every defeat just made me want to play and win more.
I’m proof that a successful career of 20 years in beach volleyball is possible. And when you are in a sport for this length of time you are always working towards a high set of goals.
My retirement has coincided with that of other beach volleyball players of my generation, which is good, because it leaves room for the younger players to make their mark. I know that this will push up the level of the game. As players like me have already participated in three or four Olympics, it’s time to pass the ball to the young players and to give them a chance to take part in these events.
It is encouraging to see the up and coming players in Switzerland like Nina Betschart, Joana Heidrich, Mirco Gerson and Gabriel Kissling. You don’t need to say anything much to them now as they know what it means to compete internationally and they are highly motivated to keep going. They just need to keep their motivation level high and always try to improve. They are the best for their age but they know that they still have to tap more into their athletic and mental capabilities to keep going in the future.
It’s good to see that other age level championships have been introduced to international beach volleyball. Tournaments like the under-23 championships provide young athletes with a great chance to perform on the international level as this is what increases their motivation as a player. It is also a great opportunity for young players to compete against others from around the world and to see how others train. This was what I found useful about international competitions when I was their age.
While beach volleyball has taken me all around the world, I have to say that there is no greater pleasure than competing on home ground in front of your own family and friends. I particularly loved the ambience at the Gstaad centre court, which was always amazing. And an added benefit of competing at home was the proximity to my own bed after a hard day of competition!
While I hope to continue my involvement with beach volleyball, I’m looking forward to also having the time to follow the career of some dynamic pairing such as Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal. And I am keen to see how far they go as a team in the World Championships. I’m also looking forward to seeing Polish teams in action as they showed us what Poland is capable of at the Olympic Games where their players showed that they can deal with the pressure of international tournaments. This year will definitely be an exciting one for beach volleyball and I look forward to seeing what the coming months will bring.
Martin Laciga is a recently retired beach volleyball player from Switzerland. Partnering with his older sibling Paul, the Laciga brother won the silver medal in the men's beach team competition at the 1999 Beach Volleyball World Championships in Marseille, France. He has represented Switzerland at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Athens where he placed fifth and Beijing where he finished ninth. He has also competed in seven FIVB World Championships (1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2011) and has won six international gold medals.