Norway’s former mentor returns to Japan to restore honour of Osaka Sakai Blazers
Sigurd Van Dijk Festøy (left) and Haruya Indo compose new coaching duo of the Osaka Sakai Blazers, thereby bringing to one of Japan's top teams|
Osaka, Japan, June 30, 2014 -
After spending eight years in Norway working at the volleyball high school set
up by Toppvolley Norge (TVN) in the small city of Sand, Japanese-born
volleyball coach Haruya Indo recently returned to his home country to mentor
one of the top teams competing in the V-League, the Osaka Sakai Blazers.
While spending eight years in Norway, Indo helped
raise the profile of the sport in that Scandinavian country to a different
level. He was at the helm of the Norwegian boys team who won gold at the NEVZA
U19 Championship in 2009, 2011, and 2013. He also helped Norway’s junior
national team make it to the second stage of qualifications for the CEV U20
Volleyball European Championship, doing so also this year after his players won
the first-round qualifier in England before settling for third place in the
second-round tournament held in Romania.
Some of his players have achieved remarkable
results also at age-group World and European Championships in beach volleyball.
Bjarne Nikolai Huus and Christian Sørum won a silver medal at the 2013 FIVB U19
World Championship in Porto whereas Hendrik Nikolai Mol and Lars Frederik
Tvinde settled for second place at last year’s U22 European Championship in Varna,
Bulgaria as well as at the U23 World Championship held only a couple of weeks
ago in Myslowice, Poland.
At the Osaka Sakai Blazers Indo follows in the
footsteps of previous head coach Shingo Sakai. He will be assisted by a former
player of Toppvolley Norge, Sigurd Van Dijk Festøy, who is half Dutch and half
Norwegian, and by Toru Uesugi, who was Norway’s scoutman and assistant coach at
the second-round qualifier for this year’s U20 European Championship. The
ultimate goal is to bring the Osaka Sakai Blazers back to where they belong
after they won the 2012/2013 edition of the Japanese V-League. Last year they
had to be content with third place as the charts were topped by the Panasonic
Men’s volleyball has been struggling to achieve
good results for a number of years already with Japan showing disappointing
performances in the World League and missing out on a spot for the 2012
Olympics as well as for this year’s FIVB World Championship in Poland. Coach
Indo wants to exploit the knowledge he acquired during his stay in Europe and
help men’s volleyball come back to the glorious days where Japan was one of the
major forces on the global arena.
His assistant, Sigurd Van Dijk Festøy, is a former
student of the volleyball high school in Sand, as well as a former member of
Norway’s junior and senior national teams. After graduating from that high
school, he spent three years in Sandnes, in the outskirts of Stavanger, to
continue his studies and eventually earn a bachelor degree in oil engineering from
the University of Stavanger. At the same time he continued his volleyball
career playing for three years in Norway’s first division (the so-called
Mizunoligaen) for the team of Randaberg IL. Festøy was one of the best scorers
at the end of each season. After completing his studies, he accepted now the
challenge of moving to Japan to help the Osaka Sakai Blazers win the title in
the next edition of the Japanese V-League.
The roster of the Osaka Sakai Blazers currently
includes a few members of Japan’s national team, inter alia some of those who
represented the Land of the Rising Sun at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Japan’s
V-League has attracted some of the world’s best volleyball players in recent
years, including the likes of Clayton Stanley, Dante Amaral, Luis Felipe
Fonteles, Joao Paulo Tavares, Igor Omrcen, Milan Pepic, and Theo Lopes, to name
only a few.