Israel’s new beach boys dream of the Olympics
The 25-year old athletes quit their indoor careers and became the flagship team of a new beach volleyball programme in Israel.
In just a few months they already booked their first success. With a wild card for the Anapa Open in Russia they became the first Israeli team to enter the main draw of a FIVB event.
Unfortunately they encountered the first seeded Russian team Konstantin Semenov and Yaroslav Koshkarev in their first match on Thursday.
Tough first match
The Israeli debutants lost 2-0 (21-14, 21-16), but they were not without chances. In the second set they could even keep up till 11-11.
“It was okay, but we could have done better”, Hilman said about their game. “I know they are the first seed, but we don’t look at them. We know we can play better, we have good basics in volleyball.”
Their only goal in Anapa is to get as much points as they can, so they might be able to enter another FIVB event. “We just want to play as many games as we can and maybe one win in the pool play”, Hilman said.
“And gain a lot of experience to get better”, Faiga added. “Because we have a dream to be in the Olympic Games and the World Cup and to be in the World Tour.”
Hilman: “We want to reach our best. In Israel in indoor volleyball, it’s very hard to get to the Olympics and to the high level. And we came to a point where we could not make the next step in indoor volleyball.”
“So we decided we could do it, just the two of us in beach volleyball. We really believe we can reach high.” At the same time the Israeli Volleyball Federation started a new project to take beach volleyball to a higher level.
New beach programme
“We decided we wanted to have one or two leading teams that would compete in the World Tour and hopefully get to the Olympic Games”, coach Shaked Haimy explained.
“This is our first team, we have another young team, 21 years old, who will join this project. And hopefully some girls in the future, but at the moment they prefer indoor to beach.”
According to Haimy Israel is the Valhalla for beach volleyball and they don’t need a lot of facilities. “We have 290 days of sun a year and a lot of beaches. It’s an amazing place to play beach volleyball. We don’t need much other than players and money.”
The federation is organizing a new, more professional league now. “They are really starting to build something”, Hilman said. “Get beach volleyball on TV, raise sponsors.”
“Hopefully this will result in us being in Rio in three years, but it’s going to be hard”, Hilman admitted.
“And if not, we will be in the next Olympics”, Faiga added. “We have time and we want to work hard. We believe we can do it.”