Top fund manager reveals volleyball background
In the build-up to the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship Italy 2014, Professor Clarich spoke about his passion for the sport.
Professor Clarich, what can you tell us about your career in volleyball?
I started playing with the team of Centro Sportivo Italiano (CSI). Later, in 1972, I participated in what was called the Youth Games. During my secondary school studies, I played with Arc Linea/Nova Linea's junior team; their senior team played in the first division of the Italian national league. While I was studying at the University in Pisa, I played with Calci in the third division of our national league, and with Cus.
What was your position?
I was a wing spiker, because I had a good vertical jump.
The outside hitter needs to have perfect reception.
My reception wasn’t perfect, but I was quick and powerful in attack.
Did you play volleyball when you were studying abroad?
I had four or five stays in the United States, with an exchange programme. I played in a town near Buffalo, New York, with the local high school team. That helped me to socialise with my schoolmates. At the end of the county tournament, I also had the opportunity to play in the All Stars Team.
What are your memories of your volleyball years in Trieste?
There were many players that were better than I was, like Fabio Pellarini and Andrea Sardos Albertini. I remember also our coach Adriano Pavlica and George Ferariu.
Are you still in contact with the volleyball family?
Recently, while working as a Commissioner of the Istituto di Credito sportivo, I met Andrea Lucchetta.
“Lucky”, who is now a commentator for the Italian television?
Now I’m back in love with volleyball. Lucchetta is a very nice person and sometimes he comes to see me.
Do you watch volleyball matches live?
I saw the World League match starring Italy and USA in Florence in my capacity as Commissioner of the Istituto del Credito Sportivo.
Do you still play volleyball?
I used to play after dinner with my friends, but I realised that you can easily get hurt if you are not fit, so I have stopped. At my age, a match with friends can be quite dangerous.
Is that so?
I bought new knee pads, but I only played once.
You deal with fund raising for sporting events. Like all other sports, volleyball also needs funding. What are the most efficient strategies in this sector?
The Istituto di Credito Sportivo funds public sports facilities - gyms, stadiums, tennis courts, golf courses - and grants low-interest loans, one-two points lower than the current market rates. But the clubs need to attain profit, because the installments have to be paid.
With the current economic crisis, isn’t it difficult to find sponsors?
In marketing terms, you have to assess if the return in terms of image pays back the investment, and that’s always difficult to determine.
In your résumé, you don’t mention your volleyball career. Was volleyball important in your professional career?
Yes, it was. In volleyball, you don’t have physical contact like in football or basketball. In this sport, the psychological side, the solidity of the team, the ability to suffer together - to work and support your teammates - are all crucial. Volleyball offers a model that you can apply in other contexts: to be immune to jealousy and envy and to emphasize the psychological component of a squad. That’s a peculiarity of volleyball.
Now you are a manager who has to take important decisions in a banking environment. Do you take decisions on your own or with the help of your team?
The final decision is the result of team work. I speak with my staff and I try to understand if they have viable ideas. New and young minds can provide valuable tips. We discuss and we prepare a strategy. If opinions are divided, I take the final decision. If that decision is wrong, I take full responsibility.
You are known for being a very calm person.
I played a lot of sports and this helps preserve your balance, helps you to control your own body and therefore also your energy.
What can you say about sports in Trieste - your hometown - which is about to host the FIVB Women’s World Championship?
In some other places ‘sportsman’ means ‘fan’; in Trieste – with its sea, its plateau, its surroundings which are ideal for cycling, its gyms, etc. – sports is in the blood of the inhabitants. There is cult for fitness, as celebrated by Claudio Magris in his books. The city has a tradition of sports clubs, like the Ginnastica Triestina. Trieste deserves to host this big event and we have to be proud of it.