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Sleeping giants answering the wake-up calls

Australia made a big splash in this year's FIVB World League and got big headlines during the Olympics
Wroclaw, Poland, September 2, 2014 – After years of receiving constant wake-up calls and stretching for a while, the Australian sleeping giant seems ready to jump into the international volleyball scene with encouraging projections.

The fairy tale began with the preparation and eventual qualification to the 2012 London Olympic Games where the team from “Down Under” scored a stunning 3-1 victory over the World League champions Poland thus confirming the evolution of Australian volleyball.

Argentinean coach Jon Uriarte, a bronze medalist at the FIVB World Championship of 1982 and at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 as a player, is in his second stint coaching the men’s national team and has witnessed the process as an integral part of it.

“Since the Olympic qualification process towards London the popularity of the game has grown incredibly fast,” Uriarte says. “And the efforts made by the new Australian Federation are paying the fruits.”

The Argentinean, who first coached the squad between 2001 and 2004 before accepting the same position with his native country team until 2008, pointed out the importance of hosting matches in Australia as an important ingredient for the expansion of the sport.

“Playing matches at home has contributed a lot and the volleyball movement in Australia is going quite fast promoting a great evolution,” Uriarte commented.

Last June, the Final Four of FIVB World League Group 2 took place in Sydney, Australia where the home side claimed victories over France and Netherlands en route to a top place finish and a spot in the Finals in Florence, Italy.

“The fans have had the chance to watch the players competing under pressure and not only in friendly matches,” Uriarte said. “It has been a great year for us as we beat good teams.”

Uriarte knows his Australian team is still a work in progress, but with the physical attributes and attitude to continue climbing up on the ladder.

“We have taken a big first step –a giant step- but there are a lot of things to improve and a lot of ceiling to keep growing,” he said.

Watch out! The giants are threatening to get bigger.


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