Pepe magic helping Paraguay toward Nanjing dream
Pedro Paul Costa or Pepe as he is better known has been working with the Paraguayan Volleyball Federation since 2011 and he is slowly starting to make his mark in the land-locked country.
Michelle Valiente, who at 15 was the youngest competitor at the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships, and Erika Mongelos recently won the third of the six South American Nanjing qualifying tournaments in Cochabamba, Bolivia to give the pair hope that they could be heading to Nanjing later in the year, the first stop on a glittering career for the pair.
“We’ve achieved one of our first goals (winning a medal), but now we need to grow,” Pepe said. “When I started working back at the South American Games, Lima 2011, we didn’t expect to win silver there, but we were second to Brazil and since then we have won two more medals. In Cochabamba Erika and Michelle maintained the levels we expect and finished top.
“We know we have many rivals, but we want to remain in the top 16 and we were promised the chance to compete in the FIVB U19 and U21 World Championships.”
South America’s qualifying programme is based over six tournaments with national teams accruing points, with the top-six ranked teams qualifying for Nanjing. So far three tournaments have taken place, with a further three scheduled in Venezuela, April 25 to 27, Peru, May 2 to 4 and Argentina, May 16 to 19.
If Paraguay’s youth do continue to progress it will be built on the foundations that Pepe has put in place. The 33-year-old Rio de Janeiro native has built on his experience from working with the Brazilian federation to drive Paraguay on to new heights.
“We first developed adult beach volleyball, in which we had eight or nine teams,” he said. “Then we started to work with young players and we took 12 players, who we then reduced to four. None of them had previously had a structured training process and I’ve tried to use a similar system to the one in Brazil.
“Paraguay don’t live and breathe volleyball like they do in Brazil, but we have had the players training hard and the girls showed the benefit of it.”