Article courtesy Rahim Rahimzadeh; Julie Haake contributed to this report.
A brief introduction of Afshardoost: In 1987, he started mini-volleyball in Karaj city. Three years later, he joined the select Tehran youth team. In April 1991, he was invited to the national youth volleyball team by Mr. Yadollah Kargarpishe, the head coach of the team. In 1993 and 1994, he became team captain. He joined the national senior team in 1995, and played on that team until 2003. He is now a member of the AVC Coaches’ Committee. He holds a P.h.D. degree in Sports Management with a focus on Physical Education and Sports. He also holds a level 3 FIVB coaching certificate. From 2008 to 2010, he has been working as a coach with youth and senior teams for national and club teams ,and has achieved honors for Iranian volleyball.
Q: According to some statements, councils are better than having a Chief governing the existing committees of the volleyball federation. Do you agree with this?
A: Committees can have a central core or board of directors. Those could turn into organizations. If those change to organizations, such as the existing organizations: ‘‘ Beach Volleyball Organization and League Organization,” those must have a board of directors. But if those remain as committees, each committee could have a central core. This core can consist of several persons that participate in all committee meetings and give their own consulting views to the chairman of the committee. Eventually, one person makes the final decision which is acceptable to all others. I think every committee of federation could be run by a boss and another person as a vice or secretary. The boss will be the responsible person. If a committee is run as a consulting assembly, no one would be responsible for all taken decisions. For any subject, discussion or item which arises, according to the constitution’s rules of sports federations, those should have a chairman and a secretary.
Q: It is said that federation or some directors of the federation are dividing the journalists into two groups of familiar and unfamiliar journalists. Do you agree with this view?
A: Regarding this debate, I do not think such incident has occurred because everyone active in the volleyball news area is friendly. Surely myself and other members of the federation are grateful for their work. It does not matter for which media they are working. Each one is dear and everyone does his/her best in his job. For sure our special respect goes to each of them and there is no doubt about it. I think my behavior over the last few years has shown that all journalists are loved ones and important to us. I, myself, have personally tried to answer all the questions at all hours, at all times, for all issues. I’ve even been answerable of issues that are beyond my scope of duties, so I think there’s no such dividing. God did not do it. If it has happened once, it was unintentional, but such action does not exist at all. We do not have this discussion in the federation, thank goodness.
Q: What are your thoughts on appointing veteran players, managers, and experts as supervisor of the teams, especially in dispatching teams to overseas competitions?
A: Veteran players acting as supervisors can be a great tool. Team players would be glad to see them as supervisors. Discussion of supervision for the teams is now very different in today’s world in comparison with the old days. Today, it has its own requirements and needs a number of factors. Of course, all of the loved ones and the elder veterans have all of these factors, but domination to the rules and regulations of the FIVB and AVC is a serious matter. Both of the above-mentioned organizations put them forward and observe them. Some tasks are very essential, such as: considering deadlines, dead times, on time registration into the events, persistent work stages, formalities of obtaining visas, prosecution of flight tickets, being aware of delayed flights, providing services to the team (including placing orders for uniforms and any other necessary item for team members), on-time delivery of those, fixing training camps, welcoming the guest teams, and coordination with foreign embassies. Performing and completing all of these tasks are necessary. All of them require adopting a special humor and requires young persons as the managers. Requirements of the job are peaceful border and environment, so teams can easily get to the tournaments outside of their countries and come back without any hectic manner. with ease can get to the outside tournaments and come back without any hectic manner. Certainly in the future, veterans could give service as head of teams and become helpful for the volleyball federation.
Q: It seems that Dr Ziaee, the new president, will make changes in managers. What are your thoughts about his plans?
A: His interviews indicate that he intends to make good opportunities for volleyball. Also, he is going after some changes and transitions. He is very determined by the league games.
He made the first change when Mr. Shafighi, the international Referee, became chief of the League Organization. Then he made another change at the Refereeing Committee and the Public Relations department as their directors were changed. We should see what other changes will take place in management soon.
Q: What do you say about criticism and critics of the federation?
A: Certainly, all of the criticisms are good. Essentially, I believe in criticism. Without it, our works would be worthless. Criticism helps the federation to be run in a better way, and surely criticism needs a solution. There is a famous saying that says thinking is very difficult. So, many people judge instead of think. I think if a criticism occurs, certainly it is good and helpful. In any condition, it should be accompanied by a solution and that solution can help to frame any work.
Q: What do you think about your own situation in the federation? How do you evaluate your service and performance in the federation?
A: Now that I am serving as the General Secretary, there are whispers that there will be more changes in the federation. Maybe I will be changed and will not be in this position. I can not talk about this because I do not know if I will remain in this post or not. My performance is also very clear. Actually, in July of 2012, according to an official notice of the Sport and Youth Minister, I have been serving in this position (Secretary-General of the Federation). For many years, I have been elected as the best General Secretary of the sports federations by mass media and other organizations. My work status is clear. My relationship with the provincial boards is very clear. My work is clear in the federation. My cooperation with my colleagues is clear. I have always worked as an executive director in hosting various competitions which were held here in Iran, and we have always earned an accepted score. According to my previous records, after working two years in the federation, I was able to get a position at the Asian Volleyball Confederation and become a member of the Tournament Committee.
This post is valid until 2019 and is available for me and of course for our country’s volleyball.
I think all of them confirm that we have a good interaction with FIVB and AVC. I have tried to use all of the available capacities to manage things. In the meantime, while I have been working in this section, as you’ve seen, I’ve discussed, I’ve talked, I’ve defended, I’ve even criticized ourselves and the way of our work. So I think my performance is clear. However, I do not know if Dr Ziaei likes this performance or not. Finally, this performance was done at the time when he was vice chairman, and he was confirmed by the president of the federation at that time. I have not yet spoken with him in this matter, so I do not know his personal opinion.
Q: What are the federations’ plans for the future?
A: Federation performance plans are clear. We have planned a series of events for the year, and we have to complete those. We have competitions. These are our predetermined programs and annual plans. We also have a four-year plan. All of them have been drafted, reviewed, and sent to the Ministry of Sports and Youth, and those must be done according to the time schedule. For example, participation in various competitions, holding various camps and conducting plans for finding talented players are on the top of the list, so those should be carried out by the volleyball federation. We will hold various seminars in the current year and coming years. We also have an international seminar on the agenda. We will be able to bring each one of them to operation.
Q: At the AVC Coaches Committee meeting, you spoke about some topics printed on the website of Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC). Please give some explanations on them.
A: Generally speaking, I expressed a lot of topics and we discussed them. The AVC website also published those. For example, we have teams in the Asian continent who are at the world-class. Our men’s team is also among those teams which are at the attention of the European teams. They can be used from our work platforms in the way of team preparation and style of our players’ performances. On the other hand, our volleyball federation can get the pattern from work of the other successful teams who are title and medal holders in Asia, the world, and even in the Olympics.
Q: What do you think of the firing of some coaches due to failure in competing with other teams?
A: Like you, I do not want to mention the name of any coach (Mahmoud has a special smile on his face) and I cannot give special comment on the separation of some coaches from their teams after one or two losses. Many of the coaches are my friends and some of them were also my former teammates as a player. Together, we have passed a good and golden era. For a coach detaching from his team for not being successful, it is uncomfortable. Being unsuccessful is also part of the sport and it often happens for coaches. Managers have the right to work or not work with an unsuccessful coach. Some managers get used to this right, so managers want to give a shock to their team. They think this shock gives awareness to the team and puts the team into a better process. Whether dismissal of a coach can be effective or not, the future can prove it.
Q: Some of the leaders of spectators and audiences perform bad moral actions towards the rival team in a match. What do you think about this matter?
A: Certainly, this lack of discipline, immorality, or quarrelsome behavior is not graceful for volleyball. Sometimes we face with them as some spectators and leaders of them. We all are saddened by such behavior. The Federation is considering instituting fines for confronting bad temper. But I also believe that imposing fines will not illicit a response. For example, depriving badly tempered spectators of watching one or two games does not prevent them from committing bad behavior, and can’t stop them from behaving immorally. Because preventing them from watching one or two games of their team as a punishment is not a successful tool, I think we should strongly and seriously link this act to the cultural affairs. We can provide circumstance for culture breeding and constructing cultural conditions. We should provide conditions players of both teams until spectators only cheer their own team and their beloved team only. Volleyball deserves encouragement. I think leaders can control themselves and guide the spectators towards good action because somehow spectators and leaders are related to the clubs, and they are feeding on their clubs, so clubs and their directors can control them. Also, clubs can control their coaches for not trying to get the win at any cost. This action of endeavor to achieve a win for any price creates some difficulties. This idea of getting a win creates sensitivity in the spectators and leaders. This emotion expands to the audience who is sitting in the bleachers and only encourages them, and encouragements are just volleyball. I think that all of these can be controlled and be a bit more accurate. Meanwhile, we should expand the cultural issues, as this act can help us in this way.
Q: In running the Premier League and in continuation of its games, we saw that some clubs do not have stability. What is your view in this regard?
A: Lack of stability in the clubs is really an issue for many teams. Unfortunately, when the managers of teams are changed, the perspective and conception of clubs changes, and this is the Achilles heel of this work.
I think the clubs, by having a strategic plan and vision as an organization, are obliged to run sports teams. I do not mean volleyball; I am talking about all sports disciplines. Each director who takes the managerial position can plan for the long-term and create a profit for achieving a good income by having and running a team.
Any manager who comes can do long-term planning. He can create income for the team by plans, and by this income they can run and keep their team in a good way. This running could be continued in the long term. By changing management, a club or team works and runs a team for one or two years. When the new and next manager takes the position, he disbands the team, or if a manager is not interested in a special sport, dissolves that sport’s discipline and turns toward other disciplines. In case the body of the club, the club’s principle, or top managers of the club, can define a philosophy for this job, I think by changing management, this is actually dangerous.
As a proposal, another issue can be considered for the team. A team which plays in the Premier League or the first division league achieves points at the end of the season, and by those points, the team finds its rank at the ranking table. We can grant credit to ranks of each team. Actually, a rank for each team gives it monetary value.
Actually, by doing this work, change of managers will no longer be effective, and by assigning the money value to the teams’, managers cannot easily dissolve any of the teams. This can be helpful for this case.