Seeing a spike in China’s net gains
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