06. 06. 2020

INTERVIEW: Tsimafei Zhukouski – “We can reach EuroVolley 2021”

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After a seven-year rich career in Italy and two years in Germany, the captain of the Croatian national team, Tsimafei Zhukouski, is moving to Russia. In a pleasant conversation, he revealed to us how he is preparing for the new season, what his plans are in the future and what he thinks if the Croatian national team can qualify for Euro 2021.


After two and a half months, you started training in the gym. Where and how are you preparing for the new season?

"The 1st   May I came back with my family from Italy, luckily we are all alive and well. I am currently in Zagreb and I have started preparing for the new season. I train every day at Mladost with the senior team and they finally allowed us to train with 12 players on the field, which greatly facilitates and improves training. ”

For the first time in the world of sports, we encountered a situation where there are no official matches for three months. How does it feel for an athlete to be without competition for so long?

"A catastrophic feeling, both for our volleyball and for all sports in the world. Nobody expected that something like this would happen, that all championships, cups, Champions Leagues would be canceled. It's really hard, but it's important that things get better now. ”

You were in a country that was the focus of the coronavirus. How did you train and live in Italy at the time?

"It was a very difficult situation in Italy, we were practically not allowed to go out on the street, except in shops or pharmacies. The hardest part was for my wife and son, who were practically locked in the apartment for two months. We managed to somehow organize for the training sessions through the club and we got the programs we trained every day. Most of us players had big apartments with terraces, where we trained every day with props, weights that we took from the club gym. ”

After Italy, the captain of the Croatian national team moved to Russia, where he will play for the next two seasons. With a contract in Russia, he also realized his boyhood dream.

"I signed a two-year contract with Fakel Novy Urengoy, which is a serious club in Russia. It is very difficult to get to Russia because in the whole league clubs are only allowed to have two foreign players and those two foreigners must be top players because that is the limit so that clubs only choose top players. I was lucky, they chose me so I'm really very happy and satisfied and I can't wait for the season to start. ”

Tsimafei Zhukouski also revealed something interesting about his club. He will train and live in Moscow while traveling to home games by plane.

"My new club is known all over the world precisely because we travel by plane to home games. The biggest reason for this is that all the club’s main sponsors are based in Novy Urengoy. In Moscow, we have training sessions in the beautiful CSKA base, where there is a complex for basketball, football, ice hockey and volleyball, and everything is under one roof. "

The Croatian national team is expected to qualify for Euro 2021 in August, which is still under great question given the situation with the coronavirus. Croatia is in the group with the Netherlands and Sweden, can the Croatian national team win and finally go the Euro?

"I am sure we can. We showed with the Netherlands last summer that we can play equally, we lost one game 3: 2 and won another 3: 0. With the head coach and players we have, I now think we have a huge chance to go to the European Championships. I hope that the qualifications will be held in August and given the situation with the coronavirus in the world. I would very much like the qualifications to take place so that I can finally see and train with my teammates from the national team.

The beach volleyball season is starting in Croatia, will we watch you at some tournaments this year as well?

"There is always a chance, I always decide at the last minute to play with my brother in pairs. I am currently preparing for the new indoor season, but when the weather is better if there are opportunities and chances, I would like to play a tournament. ”

Players, who play both indoor volleyball and beach volleyball, somehow the eternal question always arises whether you prefer indoor volleyball or sands?

"The difference is big, they are two different sports, definitely both technically and physically. You are locked in a hall or you play at a temperature of +40. I prefer indoor volleyball, because I've been doing it my whole life and I make a living from it, and I only play beach volleyball recreationally and use the sand to get ready for the indoor season. By the way, I am a very big fan of beach volleyball, I love and follow this sport.

How do you spend your free time?

"Only during the isolation  I cooked a little, mostly my wife does everything around the house. In my free time, I regenerate after hard training sessions and matches. I mostly like to go for a walk and I'm dedicating myself to the family since I spend a lot of time away from home because of training, games and traveling. I love being with family and playing with my son. I also like to play the play station, which I play with my brother and friends. "

In the end, the captain of the Croatian national team told us:

"I hope that all this about the coronavirus will end soon and that we will start playing matches, working with our federation and national team and start training for European qualifications as soon as possible."


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