Japan coach Manabe draws the line after winning World Grand Champions Cup bronze
Coach Manabe was rather happy with his team’s performance: “Our goal was to make the podium and we eventually got third place. We lost to the teams that are currently ranked first and second in the world, Brazil and USA, so we can’t be too disappointed though I was hoping for more from these games,” he said.
The World Grand Champions Cup does not assign any ticket to the Olympics or the World Championships but Manabe feels like this competition is a very good opportunity to continue with the development of the national team. “Since it does not count for the FIVB Ranking but still you have the very best teams in the world competing here, the World Grand Champions Cup is a good challenge we are always wanting to take up. It also gives me the opportunity to test some players who are normally not included on our starting six but need to get more and more experience on the international stage before we take on next year’s World Champs and from there we continue our work towards the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.”
Manabe did not want to disclose any prediction about the chances of Team Japan to perform well in the men’s competition: “I really do not know much about their possibilities so it is very difficult for me to say what they can achieve in this tournament.” Team Japan will debut on Tuesday night playing USA.
After winning bronze at London 2012, the women’s national team have completed their return to the top and sparked a real volleyball fever across the country. A passion that shall reach new heights by 2020, i.e. by the time Tokyo will welcome the Olympics. “Actually for the time being I am focused only and exclusively on our preparations for Rio 2016. After Rio we will start building up the team for Tokyo 2020 where we may include also some of the players who are currently in the youth and junior national teams. These girls have performed well also internationally so I think that the future for our national team looks pretty bright.”
Japan’s undisputed volleyball star Saori Kimura has moved to Turkey already last year and after switching from VakifBank to Galatasaray, she is about to spend her second season in Europe. Manabe has a clear view on this topic: “Of course our players moving to Europe are able to progress and develop while playing there. At the same time, we need to keep the value of our V-League and for me as national team coach, it is sometimes difficult to follow what these players are doing once they move abroad.”
Manabe is also working on an action plan so as to boost the development of volleyball in Japan. “Our women’s national team is very popular at this stage especially after we won bronze at the Olympics. We shall try to exploit this good moment to mobilize more youngsters so that they start playing volleyball and we have more players to work on for the future.”