He worked for two seasons in London and in this time won 4 medals in the English Volleyball league. Two victories and two second places; and to this ninth place in the CEV Challenge Cup in 2017 made that year the most successful in IBB Polonia’s history. Piotr Graban talks about his adventure and his future plans for 2018/19 working with Andrea Anastasi in Trefl Gdansk.
(Ed): I am sure some people wondered why you went to London. Now you are making your next big step in your career; how do you sum up your time in the UK?
(Piotr Graban) I think each step we take is important; for me self-development is a priority. I learnt a huge amount in England. I had to overcome very challenging and new situations that had never existed in Polish volleyball. I am, as a result, a better coach, a better person and I also speak better English!
(Ed) So now you have a season in Gdansk, next to one of the top coaches in the World: Andrea Anastasi. What are the plans for you and your new team?
(PG) I’m very excited to be returning to my home town, to my home and my loved ones. To be the assistant coach for Andrea is an amazing opportunity to develop yet further before my next step in my career. Our aims will always be the same: to do everything possible. I know all the teams in PlusLiga are strengthening, this depends on team budgets, and I’m sure we too aim to be amongst the best.
(Ed) One of your aims was to develop volleyball in England. Apart from leading IBB Polonia London, you led workshops for coaches. Will you continue with this important work?
(PG) I will do everything possible to share my knowledge. There is a lot of thirst for knowledge in the UK and it continues to grow the time. The great results of IBB Polonia London show that more and more people are keen to find out from me how to improve the sport. I’m working on a book, that will help coaches to develop their careers.
(Ed): So how has IBB Polonia changed during your two-year tenure?
(PG) When I moved from a fully professional club to a semi-professional club two years ago, the beginning was quite an eye-opener for me. I had to introduce my philosophy step by step; sometimes big changes were needed, at other times small details, but when the changes bore fruit, it became easier to instil yet further change. I consider the biggest change to be the change in attitudes during training sessions, where more professional behaviours of the players were required. I’m really pleased that I leave the team in a much better situation in terms of their approach to sport. I keep my fingers crossed that the development will continue in the right direction.
(Ed): What changes must be brought into England so that they eventually catch up with Europe?
(PG) The most important issue is to learn from other countries. There are many players, organisations and coaches who could be much better if they could only see how their roles look overseas. I tried to develop the education of volleyball during my time in London; I attempted to awaken the desire to be better. There is a response, albeit smaller than I had anticipated; if the development continues in the same manner then England really has a chance of rapidly moving forward in volleyball.
Piotr Graban: born in 1986; Polish Volleyball Coach. One of the most decorated young coaches in Poland. Graduated from AWFiS Gdansk.