The Polish Men’s National Volleyball Team is one of the most successful national teams in the world. It is one of the few squads that can boast about being European Champions (2009), Olympic gold medalists (1976), World Champions (1974 and 2014), and World League Champions (2012). With that resume, one would naturally think that the Polish Volleyball Federation would be more organized in its internal affairs.
Currently, Poland’s maximum volleyball governing body is under heavy criticism because of the way it has chosen to elect its new national team coach, which is just a year away from defending its gold medal at the 2018 FIVB World Championships. According to Sportowefakty.wp.pl, the federation has emailed potential coaches asking them to write back by 11/20 with a resume stating why they should lead the national team, specifying short and long term goals, and evaluating Poland’s current and future players. But, according to an interview given to Sportowefakty.wp.pl by one of the candidates, Krzysztof Stelmach, head coach of Polish PlusLiga club AZS Czestochowa, the e-mail is not clear on various important elements of the job:
I will honestly say that I do not fully understand the content of the message from the federation, I just have to call to Warsaw. The federation sets no goal for the new coach, and I think that is a fundamental mistake. If the coach says that he wants to focus on an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo 2020, will the federation just forget about next year’s world championship?
Everyone will say that his goal is to win the World Cup, and triumph at the Olympic games, of course. So this is a contest of promises only. I’d much rather have the federation state what it requires of me, then I will answer if I am able to deliver such performance or not. The federation has also not made clear if coaches would be required to leave their domestic club posts.
Also, a lot o fans question the fact that the Polish national team has not had a Polish national as a head coach since 2005:
- 2005–2008 Raúl Lozano – Argentinian
- 2009–2010 Daniel Jorge Castellani – Argentinian
- 2011–2013 Andrea Anastasi – Italian
- 2014–2016 Stéphane Antiga – French
- 2017 – Ferdinando De Giorgi – Italian
Of this, here is what Krzysztof Stelmach had to say:
It stills seems to me that Poland has an atmosphere that favors foreign coaches, which leaves Polish coaches marginalized. If a Pole is indeed selected, he will jump on a hot chair, everybody will look at him with doubled attention. Pressure will be huge. I can not compare myself with Raul Lozano or Julio Velasco because I have a lot less than them experience. However, it is not like I will kneel before every trainer who comes from outside our country. I worked as an assistant in the national team team, spent a lot of years in Italy, saw a lot and learned a lot. Now I’m waiting for all this to pay out.
Zbigniew Bartman, who has 137 caps with the Polish national team, also had some strong words in an interview to przegladsportowy.pl about what he refers to as “The Polish Coach Brazilian Soap Opera”:
It’s like a Brazilian soap opera that never ends. It is hard for me to say whether the option to go with a Pole right. Everyone who succeeds is right. And no one is able to guarantee it now. Of course there are coaches with whom the chances of success grow, but this is not an exact science like math. The Polish coach who has been the successful in recent years is Andrzej Kowal. He won a Champions League silver medal with Resovia. He has the best recommendations. I had the pleasure of working with him and remember him very well.
We have good trainers, but the problem is the lack of confidence in them. If they choose a Pole, they will have a lot of problems, as many people will want to influence him. Foreign coaches are more influential. I would like if a Polish coach received the same amount freedom and confidence that foreign coaches usually have in our country.
This soap opera surrounding the new coach can not end well. All the time there is a Alejandro, who spoils it for the heroes, that is, that is, federation presidentes who regularly fire the national team trainers. We are the country that most often changes national team coaches. So it is not certain that this new coach will last for for a long time. Rather, looking at statistics, it does not appear to be so.
If the Polish national team is to successfully defend its World Championship title next year, it will have to solve its coach conundrum fast, as most of the world’s teams are already midway through their preparations.