Dominik Żmuda has been a successful volleyball coach for a 3 years working at ZAKSA Kedzierzyn-Koźle, the current gold medal winner of the CEV Champions League. Having left Poland in 2018, he moved to the UK and immediately joined the coaching team at IBB Polonia London. His role is as one of the assistant coaches of the men’s team and will continue in this role for the 2021/2022 season. In addition, for the last year, he has been working with the student athletes at the Pro Volley Academy. His role allows him man opportunities and the ability to evolve further as a coach. The Polish volleyball coach is looking forward to next season with enthusiasm and is ready for the next phase which is waiting for him and his players. He speaks openly about why he wanted to stay with the Club, what squad development looks like and what the role of a coach entails.
Editor: Was it a good idea to join IBB Polonia London? How do you rate your time at The Club so far?
Dominik Żmuda: Joining was very valuable for me, because working with senior players allows me to work in very prestigious competitions, such as the CEV Champions League or the CEV Cup; and this is not possible with junior teams. The sporting aspect aside, I have also developed my own English. It takes a considered response to be able to communicate effectively in another language; to be able to explain precisely what I want.
Editor: Do you have a significant role in developing the team in London?
Dominik Żmuda: Yes. Above anything else, working alongside Vangelis Koutouleas is really beneficial for me. I am grateful to him that it isn’t a typical hierarchical relationship. Vangelis appreciates my advice relating to the senior team. I know he listens to what I have to say and takes it on board. Apart from that he gives me a lot of responsibility within the Pro Volley Academy.
Editor: Why did you decide to stay another season?
Dominik Żmuda: I think the main reason is that I get to work alongside Vangelis Koutouleas for longer. I enjoy being part of the community that is making significant steps forward and never rests. Pushing forward continually allows for development and I enjoy that philosophy myself and for the team. I think I can still learn a lot at IBB Polonia and gain more experience and skill that are required of a coach.
Editor: Does this mean that you feel relaxed at The Club and in England?
Dominik Żmuda: I feel great at The Club and I know we can achieve a lot together. I have huge support from the board and those around the team with whom I work on a daily basis. The internal support is significant, but it is clear that the support from the federation still needs development. In other countries, where volleyball is more popular, the national champions can count on significant support from their national federation, but sadly in England this still has some way to go. As the champions of the country, it would be a great target for the national federation to be able to develop in a dynamic manner, and also for the league to follow suit accordingly.
Editor: Seeing as we are talking about ‚setting the bar high’ how are you approaching the new season? What are your expectations for the 2021/22 season and the demands that will accompany it?
Dominik Żmuda: I can’t wait to return to normal training. Last season was disrupted by the pandemic. As for my hopes for the season: I want us to perform better in the European competitions, for the team to develop its style of play: that will start to build in the first few weeks of training. With this in mind, we are taking major steps in the transfer market and searching for the best possible players. We want to play faster and to fight harder on court. I won’t allow for the team to drop its head during tough times or tough games. We must be a technically better team and also tougher mentally.
Editor: Will any of the Pro Volley Academy players make it into the first team?
Dominik Żmuda: We have worked on multifaceted development of each player in the Academy. With this in mind, I feel that before long, there may be two or three players that could make the step. It will depend on them whether they are up to it or not.
Editor: Are the young players motivated enough to not only training at the Academy, but also fight for places amongst the senior squad?
Dominik Żmuda: Motivation amongst young people can be variable. It takes encouragement to train and play. This isn’t only at Pro Volley, but is a wider observation I have made. We must be aware that the world and the times have changed since we were young. The time has passed when young players were desperate to impress the coaches. Now the coaches must have the right approach towards each player, to show him or her the way and also the beauty of the sport. We have taken on that role at the Academy, and know that we have to give them that spark of encouragement. For that reason I am not shy to be the motivator and the one who encourages the players and try to enthuse the will to fight. I warmly welcome all young players to give us the chance to help them develop.
IBB Polonia London continues to trawl the transfer market and has been signing contracts for the new season. The squad will come together mid-August. Recruitment for the 2021/22 school year for Pro Volley Academy is nearing its conclusion. Detailed information can be found on the pages: https://provolley.london/