See­ing a spike in China’s net gains

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

scratch. The women’s na­tional team boasts a rich tra­di­tion of suc­cess at ma­jor tour­na­ments, and the cur­rent se­nior side, coached by 1984 Olympic MVP “Jenny” Lang Ping, is the reign­ing World Cup and Olympic cham­pion.

Graca be­lieves Lang’s squad should be cen­tral to the sport’s growth here.

“You won Olympic gold medals be­fore — twice — but vol­ley­ball didn’t have a boom in China. So, the idea is to take ad­van­tage of this ti­tle of the women’s team to make the sport grow around China and of course sup­port the men’s team,” he said.

Graca warned Lang’s all­con­quer­ing women, how­ever, that the rest of the world will be des­per­ate to top­ple them at the next World Cup, in Ja­pan 2019, and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

“China must be care­ful! You can reach this po­si­tion, but to main­tain it is much more dif­fi­cult. Now your women’s team is the team to beat,” he said.

Things are a lot dif­fer­ent for the men’s na­tional team, which has failed to qual­ify for the last two Olympic Games fol­low­ing its par­tic­i­pa­tion as the host in Bei­jing 2008.

Ar­gen­tine Raul Lozano was re­cently in­stalled as head coach, tasked with reach­ing Tokyo 2020.

And Graca is keen to lend a help­ing hand.

“I know Lozano very well, he’s done ex­cel­lent work in the past and do­ing a good job now,” he said.

“Now the team has to play against the best play­ers in the world. If the CVA agrees, we can bring Team China to play Italy, Brazil, Poland, Rus­sia etc. It’s very dif­fi­cult to qual­ify for the Tokyo Games. Now you have a good team, you need more ex­pe­ri­ence.”

As for get­ting kids into vol­ley­ball, Graca reck­ons the sport could re­ally catch on in schools.

“In my opin­ion, vol­ley­ball is the sport of peace. There is no con­tact, no vi­o­lence, boys can play with girls and the par­ents don’t have to worry about their kids get­ting hurt. It’s the per­fect sport for schools,” he said.

“That’s why I think that vol­ley­ball should be im­planted in all schools in China.”

The FIVB World Grand Prix Fi­nals will be held in Nan­jing this Au­gust, while Graca would like to have China play host to more pres­ti­gious in­ter­na­tional vol­ley­ball and beach vol­ley­ball events in the near fu­ture.

“I think China should think about host­ing the next beach vol­ley­ball world cham­pi­onships and the in­door world cham­pi­onships,” he said.

The roundtable was or­ga­nized with the help of iRENA, China’s lead­ing sports in­dus­try plat­form com­pany.

Founded in 2001, iRENA Group is a long-term part­ner of ma­jor sports teams in China, in­clud­ing the na­tional soc­cer team, the NBA In­ter­na­tional Se­ries in China, and the na­tional women’s vol­ley­ball team.

The idea is to take ad­van­tage of this ti­tle of the women’s team to make the sport grow around China.” Ary S. Graca, FIVB pres­i­dent

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