14. 04. 2020

INTERVIEW: Ivan Raič and Danijel Galić - stories from Saudi Arabia and Belarus

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One of the most experienced Croatian national players, Danijel Galić and Ivan Raič, continued their careers far from the homeland, as Danijel plays for Saudi Arabian team Al Ahli Jeddah in Super League and Ivan plays for Belarusian team Shakhtar Soligorsk in Division A.


Even though the whole volleyball world has stopped due to coronavirus pandemic, these two players are training hard as usual.

Belarus and Saudi Arabia, for most of the public complete unknown destinations. How did you adapt to life there? Did you manage to easily overcome cultural and language barriers?

Danijel Galić: 

When I first came to Saudi Arabia, I had no idea what kind of life was waiting for me. But after I met the players, coaches and all the people working in the club, I felt more than welcome. People here are very kind to us foreigners and always ready to help, no matter which nationality you are. Also, former Serbian national player, Tomislav Dokić, is here with me, which makes it easier for us to communicate on and off the court. Saudi Arabians play good volleyball, which I witnessed before, as we played a few friendly games against their national squad.”

Ivan Raič: 

Belarusian people have a different kind of life than I am used to, but this isn’t my first season abroad, so I adapted quickly.”

How does it feel to train while the whole world is fighting against coronavirus?

Are there any differences in training approach than before, like players being advised to avoid close contact? Or is it training as usual?

Danijel Galić: 

As in the most leagues, the league here is also delayed. We still have five games left to play; one in the league, one cup final and three other cup games. According to the last information we got, workouts and the championship will continue in the upcoming weeks. Of course, nothing is official, as we all are awaiting how will the situation with coronavirus unfold.”

Ivan Raič: 

Belarusian volleyball federation hasn’t canceled the competition yet, so we are training normally without any restrictions while waiting for the newest decision from the government. Actually, it is a lot easier to train while the whole world is fighting against coronavirus, as time flies faster and my mind isn’t occupied with the pandemic situation. We train as usual, we have the sports hall only for ourselves, with only a few people around it. We have been advised not to go outside, except for supermarkets, where I wear a mask and gloves.”

Is it easier for you to train as usual rather than staying home in quarantine? How do you spend your days now?

Danijel Galić: 

Every one of us needs a break after the season, but if I had to choose between quarantine and practice, I would always choose practice. I am spending my days practicing in the apartment, talking with my family, reading books, watching movies and cooking.” 

Ivan Raič: 

I think that every volleyball player would rather choose practice than staying at home because it is what we do and love. As I said before, we train as usual, but as there are no matches to be played, I have much more free time. I use that time to be with my family or playing video games with my friend and teammate, Tsimafei Zhukouski.”


How are Belarusian / Saudi Arabian governments battling with this pandemic? Is the situation worse or better than in the rest of Europe?

Danijel Galić: 

At the start of the pandemic, the Saudi government had taken decisive and rigorous measures to fight the expanding of the virus. So the situation itself is much more favorable than in most European countries. Currently, there is a 24-hour curfew where we can only go to the nearest supermarket or pharmacy, between 6 AM and 3 PM. Other travels are prohibited without the special permit.”

Ivan Raič: 

I am afraid that the Belarusian government didn’t react so well, as most of Europe is blocked, we still don’t have specific measures taken here. But the future will tell were they right or wrong.”

Croatia is awaiting European qualifications for EuroVolley 2021. against The Netherlands and Sweden. What can we expect from the team?

Danijel Galić: 

This situation is likely to affect EuroVolley qualifications as well, so it is up to us players to stay in training as much as possible until the start of the official national camp. We must be well prepared and give our maximum at the upcoming matches because The Netherlands and Sweden are quality teams. It won’t be easy for us, but we have the quality to win both encounters and finally qualify for the European championship next summer.”

Ivan Raič: 

Firstly, we need to win this battle against the pandemic, so that afterward we can focus on our main goal, which is to qualify for the European championship.”

What are your plans for the next season?

Danijel Galić: 

“For the next season you will be notified on time, but for now let’s just stay home, take care of our loved ones and fight this pandemic.”

Ivan Raič: 

“I still haven’t got any plans for the next season. Hopefully, when this situation finally calms down, I’ll speak with my agent regarding the plans for the next season.”

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