Great Britain’s volleyball program was never very strong. Both its men’s and women’s teams are unranked in FIVB’s Senior Rankings. The 2012 London Olympic Games, however, breathed some fresh air into the British volleyball community, as both teams automatically qualified for the tournament as hosts.
Simon Loftus was part of the men’s team as an assistant coach. Six years later, he will now have the opportunity to be the head of the project and try to build on the Games’ legacy. Loftus is experienced, having also coached at the American high school and college level, as well as the Scottish National Senior Team. In 2014, he was awarded by the AVCA as the Div III Assistant Coach of the Year with Stevens Institute of Technology. In his return to British volleyball, he will also get to coach IBB Polonia London, a domestic club.
He was recently interviewed by the CEV about his new jobs. Here are the best tidbits from the interview. To access the full text, click here.
From your perspective as Team England’s coach – what is the plan?
When after the Olympics the whole funding was cut to the GB programme, many players retired or got involved in other projects. Therefore, it took us a while until we managed to send England to the [age group] European Championships – but when we did, I think we competed quite well and many guys got quite excited about the prospect. Therefore, for me the plan is to compete in as many European and World qualifications and in the new European League as England needs to compete at this level to grow and to give the sport the presence it deserves.
What is your coaching philosophy?
I think it is very important for players to express themselves and to create a show for people who are watching. We need to understand that current Volleyball is an entertainment business. I like my players to play expressive, expansive Volleyball, where they can take risks. I like the Brazilian style: fast, technically good and with great passion.
IBB Polonia LONDON is working hard on their image and get a lot of fans following – do you enjoy working in such environment?
It is an amazing opportunity to play in front of the crowd – it is great for players to be able to express themselves – and to be a part of something that is revolutionising the game in England. To play in semi-pro, pro setup, players had to travel abroad; now they have an opportunity to do it in the UK and really be at the forefront of developing the sport in the UK. One thing we are lacking here are sport role models that can inspire the younger generations – now we will have it here – so IBB Polonia with me as a leader can develop the game further.