CHENNAI : After a long period of turmoil, things seem to be finally moving forward for Indian volleyball. After a successful opening season of the Pro Volleyball League and the morale-boosting performance of Chennai Spartans in the AVC Club Volleyball Championship, the national team now has a new foreign coach. The new man in charge is Serbian Dragan Mihailovic, who has coached in a number of countries over the last 25 years. He has won several medals as an assistant coach with erstwhile Yugoslavia.
He was with the team when Yugoslavia won an Olympic bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and has worked in Greece, France, UAE, Qatar, Lebanon, Bahrain, Finland and Poland. Apart from the Olympics, he has won medals at the World Championships and European championships and has coached high-profile clubs like Panathinaikos and Orestiada of Greece and Al-Rayyan in Qatar. Mihailvoc will also bring his backroom staff to India, including Polish physical trainer Pryemyslaw Gaszyoski and Serbian physiotherapist Valadimir Radosevic.
While India has had foreign coaches before, this appointment is unique in that this is being done with financial assistance from the Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB)’s development fund.
This essentially means that FIVB - the body that governs international volleyball - will be paying the salaries of Mihailovic and his backroom staff while the Volleyball Federation of India (VFI) just has to take care of his expenses here. “ This can be taken as a sign that the FIVB wants India to be strong enough to field a team at the highest levels,” VFI secretary Ramavtar Singh Jakhar said. He also expressed his gratitude to FIVB president Ary S Graca for facilitating the appointment.
Mihailovic will initially be in India for five months but the VFI are already looking at extending his stay beyond that. “He will initially be in India for five months till the Asian Championships,” Jakhar said.
“Our goal is to try and win a medal there. Our long-term goals are participating at the 2020 and 2024 Olympics.
While Mihailovic is initially supposed to be with us for five months, we are planning to have him around till at least 2020. We are also hoping to use his expertise for the U-23 and women’s teams.” The Asian Championships will be held in Tehran from September 13 to 21, with the top eight teams in that tournament qualifying for the qualification meet for the 2020 Olympics.Mihailovic said that he was looking forward to his new appointment.