Lausanne, Switzerland, September 12, 2014 - As the city of Trieste prepares to host two rounds of the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship Italy 2014, FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça F° spoke to the official website of the Trieste Local Organising Committee (www.triestevolley2014.it) about the beginning of a new era for volleyball.
President Graça, volleyball is having a magical season globally - now in Poland (men), and in Italy (women) in the next few weeks. What growth do you expect for the sport after two extraordinary events?
You are absolutely right. This season has pushed volleyball into a new era of sports entertainment and innovation, which has never been reached before.
The FIVB’s mentality is to reinvent itself all the time as this is the only way to survive with new emerging young sports.
In order to meet the public’s expectations, we have been investing heavily in technology and innovation since 2012. We want to bring a truly entertaining show, not only to the fans in the stadium, but also to the world watching the matches from home.
We have adapted the TV format and reduced the number of breaks, avoiding long periods of inaction. Next year, we will introduce a new LED net, which will enhance the sport’s presentation and engagement with the spectators.
In addition to the rules adjustment and the latest technology, the FIVB has implemented a strong digital strategy in 2014 which has reached a key milestone ahead of the season, with more than 100 000 fans liking the FIVB Facebook page. Social media is playing an increasingly important role for us because it is how a lot of the world, especially the younger generation, is communicating today. The world is becoming increasingly mobile in its communication and social media provides a popular and familiar platform where those on the move can be reached and engaged. There are plenty of social media platforms available, however the FIVB is concentrating on the main ones whilst keeping in mind the trends and innovative ideas when it comes to communication.
We are using our signature events - the Men’s and Women’s World Championships - to test the new concepts, rules and strategies before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where volleyball, and in particular beach volleyball, will be core sports.
Respect, fair-play and loyalty are values underlying volleyball. One of your purposes as an FIVB President is to develop and spread them further. Can we expect volleyball nowadays to be responsible for going beyond the ‘borders’ of sport?
Yes, absolutely. One of the primary goals of the Federation is to bring volleyball and beach volleyball to the doorsteps of disadvantaged communities worldwide. We want to ensure that volleyball is made available as an educational tool all over the world and to promote values such as respect and fair-play through a team sport.
A recent example of this is the Sport for Hope Centre inauguration in Haiti, which I attended in July together with key sports leaders. The FIVB and the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA) have financed three multi-purpose volleyball courts and donated volleyball and beach volleyball equipment to show their support for the project. We demonstrated our dedication to society’s progress, education and improvement through sport.
The FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship also provided opportunities to build momentum around the sport. The Special Olympics Unified Volleyball Tournament 2014, which took place in Warsaw from August 27–29, saw participants from Germany, Serbia, Poland and USA receive awards just before the World Championship Opening Ceremony and match at the National Stadium.
Since my election in 2012, I have been striving to ensure that we are constantly improving what we have to offer and reaching out to new markets such as Africa and South America. Those markets are a top priority for me because beach volleyball does not require expensive state-of-the-art facilities - a beach, a net and a ball is enough to play.
I am a great believer that volleyball has a significant role to play in our society and I am truly convinced that it is our obligation to take part in all development projects as much as possible.
Italy is enthusiastically waiting for the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship, while women’s volleyball is constantly growing all over the world. Do you foresee the results for Italy 2014 or could we be surprised by the outcomes of emerging teams?
Brazil, Japan, Russia, Serbia and the home team of Italy are the favourites for the Women’s World Championship. But as we have seen many times in volleyball history everything is possible and I am sure that the three weeks of competition will be surprising as always.
Brazil will play in Trieste (first phase), a city that’s historically linked to Brazil due to the coffee route arriving in its international port back in the 1700s. Do you think that successful results from the Brazilian team at the World Championships in Italy could reinvigorate Brazilian sports fans, following the recent disappointment at the 2014 football World Cup?
Brazilians were really disappointed with the technical result of the FIFA World Cup because football is almost a religion there, but volleyball is the second sport in the country directly after football. Therefore events such as the Women’s World Championship and Rio 2016 Olympic Games will give Brazil another chance to shine on the world stage.
Brazil has had a great volleyball season and so far the country can be proud of their team.
Let the best team win!