Home > News > Sports News >

New China volleyball coach Heynen vows to improve team

2024-04-29 08:35 Xinhua

BEIJING, April 28 (Xinhua) -- China's men's national volleyball coach Vital Heynen on Sunday showed his confidence in improving the team.

"I think China has very good players. Now it's my mission to make some good players a good team," the Belgian said during his first training session since assuming the position on Thursday.

"I only look to future. And I come here with really strong belief that China can have a very good men's national team. They have an amazing women's national team. I think on the long term, the men can be as good," he added.

Heynen, who had guided Poland to win the World title in 2018 and the World Cup silver medal in 2019, revealed that he had been interested in coaching China five years ago.

"My story goes back to June 8, 2019 in Ningbo when I saw China vs France. From that day, I was thinking I want to be coach of China, because I believe I can make a good team from them. So I followed China for five years. They were not so good in recent years. But I still believe they can be really good.

"I knew the players before. I knew who is good and who has talent. I followed the Chinese Super League, so I need all the players to help me to make it a good national team," he added.

Having already missed the chance to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, China has set its eyes on the Los Angeles Games in 2028. Heynen said that he needs to help this team learn to win again.

"I am so convinced we are going to Los Angeles, but I know that to talk about it now is not the right thing. Today they have to learn to win again," said Heynen.

"They were losing too much in the last years. You have to learn to win now, step by step, you will grow up."

Three days after taking the helm of China, which has missed four Olympic Games in a row following its fifth-place finish at Beijing 2008, Heynen began to talk to the players on and off the court in order to help them restore their confidence.

"Every time I ask the players, they say 'No, we are not good for this reason and this reason and this reason'. But they are good. And I have to bring this belief, 'You are good'. How you get it? By winning."

However, the 54-year-old admitted that change could not happen overnight.

"It's a very, very long way. I mean China is very low in the world ranking. We don't come back in one month. We don't even come back in one year. But in three years, we will be very good, that I am very sure," he said.

The FIVB Challenge Cup in July will be the first major challenge for Heynen and his new team, which needs to win the tournament to return to the next year's Volleyball Nations League (VNL).

"For our team, it's so important to go back to VNL, at least in the next three years, to learn to play international volleyball. But we cannot expect that in six weeks we play double as good. So it will be very hard. I will be happy if you are telling me that they play better than last year. That's what I want." ■