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Coach Viktor Goncharov on problems in Belarusian volleyball

Former head coach of the Belarus national volleyball team, coach of the club Minchanka Viktor Goncharov has given an interview to the Sports Week program.

Sergei Kanashits, CTV:
The main theme of the past week is the performance of the Belarusian volleyball team at the European Championships in Azerbaijan and Baku. That was a surprising success of our sportswomen. At the group stage, Croatians and Georgians were defeated, and in the playoffs Belarus won against the Czechs. Two of the three victories turned out to be strong-willed, since Belarusians fought back from being 0:2 down. The national team of our country made it to the quarterfinals, where it was stopped by the national team of Serbia. However, getting into the top eight is a repetition of our best result at European championships. The former achievement dates back to 1995.

Natalia Mikhaylik:
Belarusian girls did well! Former coach of the Belarusian women's national volleyball team and manager of VC Minchanka Viktor Goncharov is with us today to discuss the performance. Viktor, the women's national team of Belarus is among the 8 strongest teams in Europe. Do you think this is well deserved?

Sergei Kanashits:
Are you surprised?

Viktor Goncharov, head coach of VC Minchanka:
No, I'm not surprised. I assumed that this success will come. First, there was a fusion of experience and youth. There are girls born in 1988 and who played when I was in charge, they took 5th place in Europe and 9th in the world. I'm not surprised by the performance of our team. At this point it turned out that we made such a leap forward and took 7th place for the first time in Europe.

Sergei Kanashits:
Let's return to the quarterfinals, to the match against the national team of Serbia. I happened to be at the Olympics in Brazil. I saw the final meeting, where Serbia played against the Chinese team. It was a great match, the Chinese won, but the Serbs impressed with the colossally strong squad. Can we ever get closer to this level?

Viktor Goncharov:
Look at what gap there is between us and the teams that got into the four. That's a little scares me. We can get closer, but we do not have the same system as in Serbia and other developing countries. We pay very little attention to children's volleyball, and we destroyed the system that was under the Soviet Union. Back then there were children's sports schools, schools of the Olympic reserve. There was one team, which was exactly for the championship of the Soviet Union and represented the national team of Belarus. In this regard, we are lagging behind, and they have saved our experience and left it there. The second question, the same Serbs... they take part in various competitions. They participate in the Grand Prix, European, World Championships. They have a stream of children who are very talented, with whom the coaches of the highest category are working productively. It turns out that the coaching staff in Belarus is not always qualified enough. This goes for many regions of Belarus.

Sergei Kanashits:
That is, oarsmen work with volleyball players?

Viktor Goncharov:
There are such facts, yes.

Natalia Mikhaylik:
Do not you think that volleyball is given less attention in comparison with such sports as hockey, football, tennis?

Viktor Goncharov:
You are 100% right. Volleyball is given minimum of attention. I believe everything depends on the leader who is at the top. We are trying to popularize volleyball, at the club level, too, but this is not enough. But I would like state authorities, the city authorities, to pay more attention to volleyball. After coming from Russia I have been trying for three years to take our team to the Russian Championship, we are developed enough. Russian partners seemingly do not mind, but wherever you go, you meet misunderstanding. Either there is no money, or someone does not need it.

Sergei Kanashits:
Would this allow the country to retain the best young talents like Anna Klimets. Would she play for Minchanka instead of Uralochka?

Viktor Goncharov:
I believe that we would not let anyone go if we had a decent salary. I'm not talking about super-costs, I do not want to go into finances here, but we would retain 90% of our players.

The most talented would still leave, but players of high level would still remain in Belarus. It would be a basis for the national team. We could participate in the Champions League, in the grand prix as a team, in European cups, in the Russian Championship. We would amass the number of games comparable with that of Serbs and get a lot of positive emotions and experience.

Natalia Mikhaylik:
Viktor, in 2013 under your leadership the women's team reached the playoffs of the European Championship. Tell me why you had to leave the post of head coach after so much was invested in the team?

Viktor Goncharov:
This is all about policy. The fact is that in 2013 I took the team to 9th place, and new federation officials arrived, non-professionals, you can say. And everyone knows about this. For no reason, they told me that I should leave. I calmly left. A coach came who showed results. He also had problems with that federation. Now the new leadership has come to the federation. Now normal relations have been restored, normal work is on.

Sergei Kanashits:
I always ask coaches who have achieved results with women's teams: How do you manage them, how do you handle so many girls with different characters, with their own problems?

Viktor Goncharov:
You need to be extremely honest with them. This is the first thing. You also need a whip and a carrot: praise and chide. There must be mutual trust. When I come to a team, I say that we work on trust: you trust me, I trust you.

Sergei Kanashits:
If we could return those many players that left Belarus for other countries, could we expect more serious results?

Viktor Goncharov:
The men's team could show better results, especially our 3-5 Belarusians who play in Russia at a fairly good level could help us.

Sergei Kanashits:
Viktor, Natalia asked me before this interview how Oksana Kovalchuk keeps such fighting abilities, such shape in her age. What is the secret?

Viktor Goncharov:
She is a professional with the capital letter. A person of her age would not normally play volleyball at her level. She played in Azerbaijan, played in Turkey, in Russia, everywhere. These were very large loads. She played in very good teams. She has strict regime, she has a training process, she knows her body, she brings herself up. But the most important thing is that she has pure soul, and she has youthful enthusiasm. Oksana Kovalchuk in sports is an example for all our athletes.

Sergei Kanashits
The final question: does the Belarusian women's volleyball have future?

Viktor Goncharov:
I believe that it does. Look how our national teams perform. The team of 2000 always takes prizes. There is a team of kids born in 2002, which was already the fourth in Europe. There are also talented girls there. If two or three people were selected from each of the age groups, the national team of Belarus would have good future, we would have someone to choose from. I think if we invest our finances, life and heart in children's sports, let's hope that maybe the Belarusian women's team will play at the Olympics in Tokyo 2020.

Coach Viktor Goncharov on problems in Belarusian volleyball