30. 07. 2020

INTERVIEW: Rafael Pascual for WoV – "Volleyball will suffer a lot"

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When you say Rafael Pascual, many people and volleyball experts will say – he is the best Spanish volleyball player of all time.

 

He was the key member of the Spanish men’s volleyball national team on road to conquering Europe in 2007. Spain, led by Andrea Anastasi, won the gold medal at the EuroVolley 2007 which was also the crown of Rafael Pascual’s career.

We’ve managed to make and interview with this legend.

How do you spend time during this coronavirus pandemic?

"During coronavirus lockdown, like all people, I spent all my time at home with my family; basically, I had a family life. I have a big family and all children live with me. We usually get up late and the children studied on-line. Due to my work for many years I have not been able to enjoy my family as much as I am enjoying it now. In such a difficult situation I try to bring out the positive things. What worries me the most is life when this pandemic pass, I am worrying about school, children's studies, how the businesses will be affected."

How do you see the situation in volleyball after this pandemic?

"Definitely, volleyball will suffer a lot. I am concerned about what will happen after this pandemic. Are we going to have vaccines available for everyone? How will the governing bodies of volleyball, federations and club managers react and how they are planning to save volleyball? Due to its quality as a contactless sport, the distance between the teams will probably not affect the game, but within the same team there are contacts, hugs and this will change our sport. But there is another part - training session. We have to find a way to train. I hope the epidemiological situation will improve so we can start practicing and playing matches. I also believe that in beach volleyball there is a small chance of getting an infection.“

Given that you own and manage restaurants in Madrid, how does this situation affect your business?

"It has had a tremendous negative impact. It is greatly affecting life in Spain. Catering trade should reorganize itself. In Spain, you are doing this for living, Spain is a country where people live their lives with friends, spending time in bars, restaurants, terraces, in fairs where many people come together. I personally have worked 365 days a year in my restaurants, from 11 in the morning until midnight, every single day, all of the years. We are going to see how this will change because it will surely change and we must find ways together with our clients to enjoy as we enjoyed before."

 

Do you miss volleyball and are you planning to return to volleyball in the future?

"Yes, I miss volleyball as a sport and I miss the people with whom I shared my life as a player. I miss being able to be in the final stages of championships with my club or with my team, I miss this environment and everything it takes. Missing the players, coaches, referees, contact with the spectators. I would like to live these sensations again especially, as I said before to be with people, I shared some of the best years of my life connected to volleyball."

You were a candidate for the president of the Spanish Volleyball Federation in 2017. Would you make another attempt to become president?

"When I accepted to be a candidate for the President of the Spanish volleyball Federation, I was motivated with the need to create a change in the Spanish volleyball. After that experience and for the moment I am not interested in another attempt. Not for now, but I would support and help someone who would try to make a change. Spanish volleyball needs change."

Let's remember the EuroVolley 2007. What are the best moments of this championship for you?

"Here are 3 key moments:

The first is the moment when I returned to the national team. Before the 2007 European Championship, I was a year and a half out of the national team. When I returned to the national team, I noticed a change in the selection. Noted an enormous maturity within the team. Very solid and consolidated. Important leadership was noted with Andrea Anastasi as a coach with fine control, and which has given players the freedom to deploy everything they are capable of doing. A change was seen.

The second moment was when I took the captaincy of the team supported by coach Andrea.

The third moment was when I lifted the Cup, especially since we have been European champions without losing a single match."

 

As a player you played in two positions: opposite and outside hitter (receiver). As the opposite, you played your most memorable matches, while at the end of your career you achieved the greatest success of Spanish volleyball by winning the 2007 European Championship as an outside hitter (receiver). Playing in which position gave you the most satisfaction and which was the most challenging?

"I have to add one correction. In my career, I have played more than these two positions. In the national team as a young player, I started playing as the middle blocker at Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games. What I liked the most in my career that I have played in 3 different positions - middle blocker, opposite and receiver. But where I have had more prominence in large clubs and teams, I was playing as the opposite. My motto was and has always been to train all the time to become a better person and player.

Many coaches advise players on how to think about stressful situations and how to deal with them, especially when a player is on serve. Considering you ended a lot of games at the time, attacking or serving, what is your advice to players, or what was your mental preparation (thought) just before attacking or serving?

"At high levels, there are no secrets. The only thing that makes the difference is working much more than others. The only thing that matters is that you have done more and have done better than the others. People don’t make difference between experience and nerves. When you play you are always nervous. But those nerves are not important because you have worked well and gather some experience. My obsession has always been – never, never skip training sessions. So, I've been always convinced that I can do everything. The team felt that in difficult moments and the ball went toward me. That is not a selfish thing. Teammates and colleagues have to be convinced during training sessions or working hours, to see my capabilities clearly. That is how you become a leader.“

What would be your message to the volleyball community in these difficult times?

"Volleyball is made of good people. The only way to get out of this difficult situation is together, supporting each other, wanting it to be solved as soon as possible. You have to show respect for everyone and start working, don't waste time, try to make mistakes as little as possible. Fair play as well."

 

 

Check out more interviews.


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