Cesar Hernandez Gonzalez, head coach of the Korean women’s volleyball team, told about the future operation.
On the 11th, a new year press conference was held at the Korea Comics Promotion Agency in Bucheon. Director César, who was originally scheduled to hold a press conference on the 14th (Tuesday), has moved up his visit to Korea due to the recent earthquake in Turkey.
Coach Cesar, a former head coach of ‘Lavariniho’ and Turkiye Bakifbank, has been newly appointed as the Korean women’s volleyball team’s command tower since 2022. Coach Cesar reorganized the Korean women’s volleyball team, where veterans such as Kim Yeon-kyung (Heungkuk Life Insurance), Yang Hyo-jin (Hyundai Construction), and Kim Su-ji (IBK Industrial Bank) resigned, with young players in their 20s.
Coach César, who visited Korea a little earlier than scheduled, gave a rough outline of the 2023 operation direction of the women’s volleyball team ahead of major competitions such as the 2024 Paris Olympics qualifiers and the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Summer Games.
In Korean, “Hello, I’m Cesar, the Korean women’s volleyball team coach,” coach Cesar said, “I’m sorry for not being able to conduct an interview in Korean first, I’m learning, but I’m not good at it, so I’ll conduct it in English.”
The performance of the Korean women’s volleyball team, which first anchored with coach Cesar last year, won a total of 3 sets out of 12 VNL matches, and won 1 win against Croatia in the world championship. Regarding this, Cesar evaluated, “It was not an easy year when looking at the results alone.”
▼The full text of Q&A with director Cesar is below
1. The record was not good with 1 win and 16 losses. How would you rate the first season, both positive and negative?
In fact, looking at the results, of course, last year was not an easy year. Among them, if we look for a positive aspect, it is positive that new players were selected after the main players retired. It was nice to be able to provide experience to young players. The result was bad, but the part where the players continued to grow and improved was also positive. The difficulty was that our players’ performances and levels were lacking on the international stage. In the upcoming season, we will try to develop our players to the next level.
2. It was pointed out last year that the management of the national team was difficult due to many injuries ahead of the international competition. How do you view it?
In the sports world, injuries are inevitable. Because it is a physical exercise, there are always injuries to the players. It’s the same with many players in Korea right now, and the same with Turkish players. In a way, I have to keep going with the injury. The sports world is like that. When an injury occurs, the coach’s biggest goal is to help the player recover quickly. As a professional player, the first thing a coach should do is to help the players get back on the court as much as possible.
3. Regarding the injury, there was an opinion that there was insufficient communication between the professional and the national team coach. What kind of communication do you want to communicate with the V-League coaches?
Communication with the players is like that, and communication with fans through SNS is the same, but I think we need to communicate most cooperatively and closely with the clubs. For that, I am working with an open mind. The chairperson of the Performance Improvement Committee will also actively cooperate and make efforts to communicate the areas that are lacking in experience.
4. There will be a philosophy and direction that the director has. What kind of volleyball should the Korean women’s volleyball team play, and what direction is it pursuing?
Overall, fast and powerful volleyball is an international trend. That’s why the Korean team has to play faster and more powerfully. Physical strength, technique, tactics, etc. must all be in line with the international trend. This is the part where the setter pursues fast volleyball. Also, it is important to strengthen the attack, and tactical training is required so that the attack can be tailored to the situation.
6. Various international competitions are held this year, such as the Paris Olympics qualifiers and the Asian Games. What is important as a national team coach?
The Olympics, as everyone thinks, is the most important event in sports. In this year’s Olympic qualifiers, the first priority is to play a game that can go directly to the Olympics. I know that the Asian Games, which are held once every four years like the Olympics, are also important games held in Asia. The Asian Championships are also held right before the preliminaries, so they are an important competition to check performance. In the case of VNL, you should also focus on ranking points.
7. Veteran players such as Kim Yeon-kyung, Yang Hyo-jin, and Kim Su-ji have retired and a generational change is taking place. In what direction should the vacancy of retired players be filled? How should it be different from last year?
It was last year that Korean women’s volleyball faced the reality of the absence of Kim Yeon-kyung, the best player in volleyball history, and the absence of veterans like Kim Su-ji and Yang Hyo-jin. In the future, instead of relying on one
superstar like Kim Yeon-kyung for volleyball, the national team should unite as one and become a team that can put pressure on the opponent.
8. The Turkish league is still in progress, and the visit to Korea is quite tight for about 3 days. What is the purpose of your visit?
I thought I had to communicate directly with Korean volleyball players, meet the players and coaches, and see the game to understand how things were going on inside. It was a short three days, but I am grateful for being able to come and for helping me come. I wanted to meet and communicate not only with players and coaches, but also with fans and media.
9. Looking at the V-League women’s teams, they are a bit far from the coach’s ideal (fast and powerful volleyball). I’m playing feminine volleyball, but it won’t be easy to change my volleyball style in a short time. Which method do you think is the fastest shortcut the director is pursuing?
Of course, it is not easy to post in a short time only with a short national team call-up period. However, in order to increase competitiveness on the international stage, efforts must be made to catch up. There are teams that can be cited as examples even if they are not tall and powerful, such as Serbia or Italy. Teams that can have enough competitiveness, such as Japan and Thailand, are examples. However, Japan and Thailand each have their own style, and Korea also has its own strengths, so we have to melt our own strengths while following the strengths of the opposing team.
10. Turkiye is currently in turmoil with a strong earthquake. How is the local situation and is there a message you want to convey to Korean volleyball fans?
Thanks for asking that question. The local area is very difficult due to the current earthquake. The whole world is helping to overcome this situation. Kim Yeon-kyung is also raising money in Korea. Any help is desperately needed in Turkiye right now. I would be grateful if the fans would pray for the many people who have lost family and friends in Turkey.
11. Watching the women’s volleyball match today, it’s a match between Kim Yeon-kyung and Kim Su-ji, who retired from the national team. Are you going to meet the players?
Today’s game is a game in which Heungkuk Life Insurance can become number one for the first time ahead of Hyundai E&C. This is important to Heungkuk Life Insurance. You have to place first in the regular season to go straight to the championship. It’s a very important game, and I’m looking forward to how it will be resolved. IBK Industrial Bank is a team with players who have been together in the past and present national team. Likewise, I look forward to seeing how the game will play. Also, after the game, I plan to meet some players to say hello and ask how they are doing.
12. It is not easy to communicate due to the physical distance between Seoul and Istanbul, but I do not know what kind of effort the coach is making for Korean volleyball. I wonder what kind of effort Cesar is making for his national team in Turkiye.
While I am in Turkiye now, I watch the national team schedule as well as the Vakifbank schedule. In the V-League, there are many cases where there is no morning practice due to the time difference, so I watch the video. The association uploads videos for analysis. Based on that, analyze and select players. In the future, we are planning to make a cooperative relationship with each other while sharing the video of the national team.
13. Many fans have high expectations from the director. How good is the national team on the international stage?
I think Korea is one of the really strong teams in the world when it comes to serving. In the case of blocking, it is weak, but it can support a lot in defense. I’m good at serving and defending, but I need to focus on attacking to score goals and for the national team to go to a higher level.
14. An average of 14 people should be selected for each competition. What is the most important criterion?
The criteria for selecting players is to build the strongest team. First, we look at how the players move on the court and how they shout and communicate with each other. The response to the operation time and how you want to lead the team are important.
It also evaluates players numerically through data. It is to select players who consistently perform well throughout the season. The national team will represent Korean volleyball with the Taegeukgi. When I represent Korean volleyball, I think I represent not only the players, but also the staff, media, and fans.
15. You will not be able to see all the players after coming to Korea. What if there is a message that you would like to convey to all the players you cannot meet, such as ‘how to prepare for the future’?
Not only the players you must meet, but also other players are always open via messenger, Twitter, or social media. We will continue to communicate with the players. Of course, I will approach carefully so as not to interfere with the season. This team has a chance to go to the Olympics. As a coach, I have been there, but as a coach, I also wanted to go to the Olympics. It was a long dream. Whether the game is difficult or easy, I will do my best to prepare.