Piotr Graban has decided to agree to the extension of his contract for another year and to continue to develop volleyball in Great Britain for another year. In the interview he tells how he has been preparing for the imminent challenges and what convinced him to extend his stay in London.
How were your holidays? Did you manage to have a rest?
Piotr Graban: Of course I had a rest. I spent lots of time playing volleyball with friends on the beach and had lots of lovely conversations with friends.
Social media had lots of information about your holiday activities. You led some sports camps over the summer: were they your idea? What was your role during these camps?
P.G: I took part in lots of coastal activities; which were my own initiative. I had a variety of roles. In Italy I coached 14-16 year old boys, which mimicked the School of Sporting Excellence. During the course of two weeks I had to teach them volleyball. It was a great experience, because they had no idea about any systems or tactics, but by the end, not only did they play an under 15 Italian team; they beat them! I was both pleased and proud. At the Polish camps, I was more of an assistant and helped with the sessions and sometimes took my own groups.
Did you learn anything yourself?
P.G.: Of course, every new experience is a chance to learn. I had the chance to learn during every session; how to teach. It is good to have a different approach to problems.
So you extended your contract, over the summer, with IBB Polonia London. What made you make that decision; to stay in the UK for another year?
P.G.: I had a few propositions from Poland, but decided the offer from IBB Polonia London was more attractive, because it is a longer term project. I want to build a very strong team, that will compete in Europe. I’m not only talking about IBB Polonia London, but about the sport as a whole in the UK. For that reason, I am very motivated to work hard and to build the team.
What are your plans for the season? What must be improved in relation to last year?
P.G.: There is always room to improve. A number of experienced players will not be returning this year due to work commitments or offers from professional clubs. I am delighted that the majority of players will be back for another year. This shows that they enjoyed the steps we took last year and that we are going to be taking this year. There is a lot of work in front of us if we want to become a professional club.
What goals have you set yourself this season seeing as you have won the Championship and Cup titles?
P.G.: I will repeat last year’s goals. We are likely to be seeing some new potentially very good players who will join us and improve. We will see what outcomes happen as a result. I hope we can make history once again in England.
What are your wishes for the coming season?
P.G.: I hope Volleyball England can make some changes; that they can push our sport forwards and develop it.
Are there any indicators that the level will improve?
P.G.: I’ve heard rumours, but I don’t like to guess. All the clubs will be keeping their cards close to their chests. Only once we start pre season friendlies, will we have some idea about other clubs and allow us to make predictions. We will focus on ourselves; at the end we will see who is the best.
Last season you started to develop the know how of other coaches in the UK. Will you continue with this idea? Do you have some new ideas that you would like to see take place in England?
P.G.: I have a few projects on the go. This was one of the reasons I decided to return. I am organising some coaching clinics and player development clinics in England and next year in Poland. I have also started two other volleyball projects, which will not come as a surprise. They are loosely based around development of coaches as well as male and female players in the UK and Poland. I will let you know more about this when I am ready!
Piotr Graban was born in Gdańsk and is 30 years old. In his first season as IBB Polonia London Head Coach, he won the national Title of England as well as the Cup of England. he also achieved a historic level of success in the CEV Challenge Cup. The previous 4 years, he spent as the assistant coach at PGE Atom Trefl Sopot. Piotr studied Physical Education in University of Physical Education in Gdansk and completed his Masters degree in volleyball. He has also worked with the youth teams Gedania Zukowo, Gedania Gdansk.