Blain looks back on successful career

Lausanne, Switzerland, December 2, 2016 – France’s Volleyball Federation has been digging into its past to focus on some of the stars of yesteryear. The latest to be profiled is Philippe Blain, who played 340 times for France and is now a respected coach, currently working in Poland.

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What are the memories of your career as an international player?
I always look back at the 1986 World Championship because, for us, it was a rather exceptional adventure, in both form and substance, even if there will always be the regret at not having succeeded together. It is true that I was crowned Best Player of this World Championship, but we really would have liked to have been able to push the adventure to the semifinals. It is both a great memory and a great disappointment in Toulouse at the end of the match against Bulgaria.

What club memories do you have?
I have memories of Cuneo when we played in a circus tent! When we reached the hall, an hour and a half before the game, people were already singing. It was a happy time, which I have good memories of.

What was the background to your retirement?
It was a combination of circumstances. I spent my entire career as a non-professional player in Montpellier. I worked at IBM at the same time as I was playing and was only released for the national team. Afterwards, I had a choice to make: To stop volleyball relatively early and start a career as a sports director, or opt for the offer I had from Italy. I thought that if I left, it would mean giving up everything I'd prepared for my post-playing career which would focus on another option that had appealed to me for a long time, moving from the court to the sidelines. I signed for two years as a player, but I got a herniated disc. I had proposals from other clubs, but Cuneo offered me work as a coach, so I took the plunge.

Philippe Blain talks to the France players during the 2011 edition of the FIVB Volleyball World League

How did you feel when you became a coach of the French team?
When I got the job, I was in Cannes. I put my name forward because being a national team coach means being a different type of coach. I’d also had some great moments as a player with the national team and I wanted to continue this adventure with, of course, a strong ambition to be successful.

Your adventure ended in 2012; how did the first contacts with the Polish Federation come about?
I had decided to set up a project in Montpellier which combined coaching and management. But the Polish president called me and said they were organizing the 2014 World Championship and they needed a coach. I admit that in the world of volleyball, it was something that made me dream. I was thinking of doing both jobs, but as things went badly in Montpellier, I dedicated myself solely to the Polish team.

What do you think about the current France team?
For the last two or three years, it has been an excellent team and one that really has the capacity to go very far. They did it in 2015, but at the Olympics they did not get the result we were expecting from them. It’s a high-level sport; it’s demanding every day and opponents are always trying new things with new tactics to beat those who are at the top. For the future, we have to see who will stay and who will go, but the players have all the qualities and the team has all the elements to be among the best.

Read more on the France Volleyball Federation website.


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