Julio Velasco is back. With women’s Italvolley she dreams of winning the Paris Olympics

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By John

Coaching the women’s national team is a responsibility that fascinates him and then “there is no better way to face old age than to accept certain challenges”. The Paris Olympics, which he talks about even if his national team is not yet qualified, is instead «a fundamental target», and his sweet obsession, but «let’s not create too many expectations: even a champion like Djokovic had to go to the last Olympics to win an easy gold medal and instead didn’t even win bronze. I will have to create adaptability and antibodies to difficulties and pressure.” Julio Velasco returned on the day he resigned as coach of Busto Arsizio and then signed, in live streaming, the contract that makes him the new coach of the women’s national team, a role already held in the last century, in the two-year period ’97- 98. The highly decorated volleyball coach, as always, did not hold back when faced with questions, he only avoided one, or rather anticipated it, when they would have wanted him to talk about the newly elected president of Argentina Javier Milei: «let me live a happy day – Velasco’s words -, don’t ask me this question. If you take me there…”, the words of Velasco, who then abstained from making further comments on the matter. «I’m a little excited, it’s a great responsibility to coach a team – he underlined – which has achieved such great results and which has been a favorite of the fans together with the men’s team. I am very happy, there is no better way to experience old age. I want to thank Busto Arsizio, I understand that they found themselves in a difficult situation.” But he, and he admitted it today too, has always been against the double role, which if anything is fine for his first assistant who will be Massimo Barbolini, Scandicci’s coach. No, he, Velasco, could not have done it: «I have always been against it, even when it would have been very convenient for me economically. But I think that if someone coaches the national team he must concentrate only on that.”

However, for his deputy all this does not apply: «I think that the national team deputy should be a Serie A/1 coach – he explained -, so I invited Massimo Barbolini. I am convinced that we already need to think about after Paris, even if Paris is such a strong objective that now it only makes me think about that. But I want a big shot who also thinks about tomorrow while I will only think about the Games.” And in this regard, he repeated that «we will have to develop antibodies for the pressure. I’m sure we’ll go to Paris, then winning a medal is everyone’s dream, if we did it the whole movement would make a big leap forward.” One thing he was keen to say was his son’s comments on his predecessor Davide Mazzanti: «I always thought that all those criticisms of Mazzanti were unfair: he is someone who not only won with the national team but also with the clubs, and then he is a very good person. He had to manage a complicated situation, but sometimes cycles end, as happened to me when I coached the men’s national team and I told the then president Carlo Magri that he wanted to confirm me.” His strategy is clear: «I will listen to everyone, there is always something to learn. What is fundamental is that there is total availability on the part of the players. I will always take individual needs into account, but we must have a clear line: my role is to decide and that is what I will do.” A consideration on the alleged Egonu-Antropova dualism is inevitable: “”If I have a concern it is for the reception, for the defense, certainly not for the attack – Velasco explained -. If I had problems managing great players I would not have accepted the assignment. Having two opposites like Egonu and Antropova is the best thing, then maybe after training I change my mind, but today I see it like this.” And now the sights are set on Paris.