World Championship brings out the fan in Professor Fermeglia
The rector of the University of Trieste, Maurizio Fermeglia, who played volleyball in the Danish national league from 1981-84, is one of the many fans looking forward to the event. The 59-year-old, who is a real volleyball enthusiast, sat down to share memories from his career and look forward to welcoming some of the world’s best teams to the city of Trieste.
Professor Fermeglia, how many people know that the Rector of the University of Trieste was a skilled and talented volleyball player?
Many millions, I suppose. No, I’m just kidding. Recently CUS Trieste – the sports division of our university – invited me to the ceremony where the best players of the last season were presented with awards. The Vice President of the Regional Olympic Committee Francesco Cipolla, who knew about my past as a volleyball player, introduced me as a former promising player.
It was back in 1973-74. At university, I attended classes at the Faculty of Chemical Engineering. We worked very hard and my coach was Giorgio Manzin, to whom I have now had the opportunity to give a prize to as a dean. He was a really good coach who taught us the importance of team spirit, tenacity and commitment in our physical preparation. He also put a lot of emphasis on the importance of technical skills. He was a perfectionist in that sense.
Did you introduce your children to volleyball?
I tried, but my son wanted to be a goalkeeper.
Did he want to play football?
Absolutely, and that’s what he did in the end.
Can you tell us more about your volleyball career?
I remember we had a wonderful time with Giorgio Manzin in the Arc Linea junior team. Sometimes some of us joined the group for the away matches of the senior team, which played in the first league. Our junior team won silver in the Italian Championship.
Which position did you play?
I was a middle blocker. My strongest skills were blocks and quick sets.
Do you still play volleyball?
No, I don’t. I have problems with my knees. And then it’s always the same story: when you do something at a high level, it’s difficult to continue to do it if you can’t reach the same results and perform as well as you did, even if you miss it.
What are your thoughts about the upcoming FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship matches in Trieste?
This event unleashes unique emotions. I will attend as many matches as possible, depending on my schedule and commitments. I hope that this event will also involve our students. Aside from the University for Foreigners of Perugia, Trieste is the Italian university with the highest rate of foreign students: 14% as compared to an average of 7-8%. I’m sure that the participating countries will be supported by their nationals who study in Trieste.
One more question: the dean is a team leader. What did volleyball teach you which has become useful for your career and your job?
It taught me a lot of things. What had the most influence on my character and my leadership skills, aside from military service performed as an official of the Italian Alpine Brigade and several years spent as coordinator of the regional mountain rescuing service, well, that was my experience in a team sport.
Indeed, as a player and as a coach. I have participated in many sports, such as basketball, tennis, ski touring and motocross. But if you play volleyball you have to take instant decisions. You have to react as quickly as possible and in the right way. Nowadays, that’s crucial in my job.