After two days of deliberation, Vital Heynen, who is the current coach of the Men’s National team for Belgium, has been selected by the Polish volleyball federation with 19 out of 21 votes. There were 3 final candidates for the position: Heynen, Piotr Gruszka, and Andrezej Kowal. More information about the candidates can be found in our previous article, which details some of the drama regarding this decision.
The final selection came after each candidate had presented a plan to the committee on what the future of the Polish men’s volleyball program would look like between now and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Heynen in particular submitted over 60 pages of insight and strategies for the program. The committee has spent two days evaluating the research and analysis presented by each coach, as well as their track record and preparedness to coach the team. Heynen will follow Italian Ferdinando De Giorgi, who was the latest victim in a revolving door of Polish team coaches and was fired in September after disappointing results at the World League and European Championships.
Vital Heynen currently operates as head coach of German club VfB Friedrichshafen, who is currently undefeated in both the Bundesliga and the Champion’s League. Before that, he was coach of the top Belgian club Noliko Maaseik, which he lead to multiple Belgian championships and Champion’s League appearances. He has won the German Supercup twice and the Belgian Supercup 4 times. He has coached both the German national team and the Belgian national team to moderate success.
President of the Polish Volleyball Federation, Jacek Kasprzyk, had this to say “The coach selection process took quite a long time. Why? We wanted to understand the results of the world championships in 2014 and give a fresh start to Polish volleyball. We believe that under the leadership of Vital Heynen, volleyball in Poland will more popular and higher quality. We, for our part, guarantee that we will provide the staff with the best possible working conditions.”
While Heynen has quite a strong resume, expectations for the job of Polish Men’s national team head coach will be astronomical. Poland is the reigning champion of the FIVB World Championship’s, and anything less than a medal in the tournament would a disappointment. While Poland is traditionally one of the strongest teams in men’s volleyball, they have had a mediocre run lately, missing out on medals at the Rio Olympics, the 2017 World League, and the 2017 European championship. Turning this current squad into a top team would be a defining moment in Heynen’s career and make him revered among one of the most hardcore volleyball fanbases; let’s see if he is up to the task.