Frenchman Aye aiming high in beach volleyball
The 22-year-old Aye and the 27-year-old Krou finished joint 17th at the Kish Island stop on the World Tour and will be hoping to qualify for and make progress in the Main Draw in China.
Xiamen entry list - men
Xiamen entry list - women
In an interview for the French Federation website, Aye talked about his volleyball past and his hopes for the future.
Tell us about your career in volleyball?
I started volleyball quite late in 2011, but it's a world I knew well as my father is a former professional volleyball player. He played Pro A and Pro B in Dunkerque, Harnes and Toulouse and was also a Nigerian international. So even though I started late, I had close ties to the sport. I first did four seasons with Dunkerque, two of which were at the Pole Espoirs, before going to Sete where I was at the training centre.
And how did you move from indoors to the beach?
I knew about beach volleyball, but in a more casual way. I used to play in the summer with my friends from Dunkirk and then I started to play in some tournaments with Timothee Platre. That's how I met Stephane Canet, who I talked with last summer and who offered to me a one-week internship with Youssef Krou. As it went well, he asked me if I wanted to join the French team and form a partnership with Youssef, with the ambitious goal of reaching the top level. I accepted without hesitation. First of all, because I've always liked beach volleyball, even though I've never really played at a high level, and also because if your country asks you, how can you refuse?
Did you know Youssef?
No, I did not know him. I met him the first time at the beginning of July last year when Stephane proposed that I train with him. But things quickly developed between us. Youssef welcomed me and quickly introduced me to the world of beach volleyball.
How did this acclimatisation come about?
That’s not what happens. It’s not the same sport and the requirements are not the same. Everything is different. You have to get used to it quickly, but at the same time, it is a sport that requires a lot of experience. What is most complicated, but at the same time what I appreciate the most about it, is that in beach volleyball we do everything – reception, attack, pass, defence, block, service – while in indoor volleyball, you’re just plugged into a position. Beach volleyball is much more complete; we do not have time to get bored and there is always something to do. I like that.
You made your first real preparation in January; was it not too long?
No, because it allowed me to really discover from the inside what beach volleyball is and to make progress. Everything is new to me. Physically, it's completely different from anything I've ever known before. In beach volleyball, we cover almost the same ground that we cover indoors – but on sand – so it requires much more. But also in terms of sleep, diet, stretching, and recovery, it's really different.
How do you feel about this French team?
Very good. It’s been rejuvenated somewhat with a lot of young players, so we have a lot of similarities. And things with Youssef are going really well. He’s helped me to professionalise. He’s taught me a lot and he’s a good role model.
You played your first international tournament together in February at the 5-star Fort Lauderdale tournament; what do you remember about it?
I found it fantastic – the facilities, the atmosphere there; I had stars in my eyes when I arrived. I was so happy to play there. Unfortunately, in the competition we were up against the other French pair (Maxime Thiercy/ Romain Di Giantommaso) and we lost in the tie-break after a good match. In any case, it allowed me to discover the level of the World Tour with my own eyes and it made me want to work even harder to come back and try to reach the best possible level.
What are your goals for this season?
I have a little difficulty setting myself personal goals because I am not experienced enough to be able to aim for a specific result at a tournament. We have just begun as a team, so we want to try to fine-tune our game and to progress as a team.
Quick links - Beach volleyball:
Xiamen - Website
Xiamen - Schedule and results
Xiamen - Teams - Men
Xiamen - Teams - Women
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour 2017
Rio 2016 Olympic Games - Beach Volleyball
FIVB.com - Beach Volleyball