Women’s Volleyball Head Coaches in Santiago 2023 give their impressions

SANTIAGO, Chile, October 19, 2023.- The Head Coaches of the teams competing at the Women’s Volleyball Tournament of the 2023 Santiago Pan American Games to be held at the Arena Parque O’Higgins, gave their first impressions.

The competition starts on Saturday October 21 with pool-play, with Pool A formed by Brazil, Argentina, Puerto Rico and Cuba, and Pool B consisting of defending champions Dominican Republic, Colombia, Mexico and Chile.

Daniel Jorge Castellani, Head Coach of Argentina: “We are really excited to be at the Pan American Games, an event which all the athletes and coaches wait for. Our team is a combination, with some players that were at the pre-Olympic, some senior players and we introduced five or six U21 players. Our goal will be to battle and play our best possible, to finish among the top three in our pool and then battle for the medals”.

Paulo do Rego Barros Junior, Head Coach of Brazil: “I am proud, happy to be at the Pan American Games here in Chile. An important tournament for Brazil. A great opportunity to develop players and some other ones who are beginning their experience at professional volleyball level and it’s an important competition that we must make the best out of it and have fun. The tea mis a combitnation of young players and some who played at the U21 world championships, others that played in the senior team season and others who are having their first experience with the national team”.

Eduardo Guillaume, Head Coach of Chile: “It’s a great responsibility to play the Pan American Games at home, we are very happy because I’ve been in Chile for 7 years and this is the first time we’ve been playing all over Chile. We played in New Zeland and yesterday we finished playing a tour with Mexico and I liked the response of the fans, they always respond well, they go to support and motivate the team. I see that my players have been taking it with enthusiasm the fact to player her in front of their supporters. When I arrived in Chile, there were some under-18 players, some younger ones, and some veterans who joined the group last year. Then there’s the core, which is very young, a group of girls born between 2003 and 2005. I started working with them when they were 14 years old, and we have a fairly young mixed team. All the teams here faced some difficulties, but thanks to the Federation’s management, we were fortunate to train in a sports complex where we had a very pleasant experience with the people and the facilities. We train every day, and in the past week, we played three matches in three different locations. We will take it one game at a time. Chile is the team with the lowest ranking in this event. The Pan American Games always feature eight high-level teams, and as the host, we automatically qualified. But we know that each of our games will be like a final because our rivals have a higher ranking than ours, and these are typically tough matches”.

Antonio Rizola, Head Coach of Colombia: “We are proud because in 2019, we participated in our first Pan American Games and reached the final, surprising everyone. Today, all of Colombia expects a medal from this team, but that’s not the case because the Games are outside the National team period. We have brought a team with an average age of 20 years, including three 16-year-old athletes, one who is a starter. This means that we have already started our process for 2028. These players have a projection for 8 to 10 years. It is a joy to represent Colombia in such an important competition as the Pan American Games with a young team, always supported by veterans like Juliana Toro and Camila Gómez, the team captain. When we returned from the qualifying tournament in Poland, the main senior players stayed in Europe and did not return to Colombia. After giving the athletes 5 days of rest, we began preparing for the Games. We understand that the Dominican Republic is the strongest team in this championship, as they are the only team with a complete roster in our group. We must fight for the second spot with Chile and Mexico. Mexico also has many problems, and Chile has prepared well, so these will be tough matches”.

Leivis García, Entrenador de Cuba: “Cuba se presenta con un equipos muy joven en donde el 75 % de su composición son jugadoras Sub-21. El objetivo es dar un espectáculos, incursionar a las atletas nuevas a este nivel de voleibol, luchando punto a punto, partido a partido y obtener el resultados de acuerdo con el esfuerzo. Venimos de haber ganado medalla de bronce en los Juegos Centroamericanos y del Caribe y en el Final Six en Canadá. Es una lástima que este evento coincida con varias jugadoras ya jugando con sus clubes a nivel internacional, porque no podremos darle seguimiento al equipo”.

Marcos Kwiek, Head Coach of Dominican Republic: “We are very excited. Representing the country is always something very important and beautiful, and we hope for a tournament with many successes. The team is practically coming with the complete roster for the Games, which was planned from the beginning. We already had three competitions as a priority this year, and the Pan American Games were one of them. We returned from the Olympic qualifying tournament in China, and the team was already in high spirits because we achieved our goal. Before coming to the Pan American Games, we had a training base in Brazil, and we worked very well. All the players are in good physical shape, prepared to bring a medal to the country.”

Nicola Negro, Entrenador de México: “First of all, we are very happy to be in this important competition. This marks the end of a very long season for us, our seventh competition during the season. Our preparation was somewhat affected because in the last few days, some players had already left to compete with their clubs and have since returned to Europe. Fortunately, we could field the same squad that played in the pre-Olympic tournament in China last month. That tournament allowed us to face high-level teams and served as preparation for a good Pan American Games. Our goal is the same as all the other teams here: to seek a medal. We know that the competition will be tough, and there are clear favorites like the Dominican Republic and Brazil, but I also see a balance, I think the battle for the podium is open”.

Juan Carlos Rodríguez, Head Coach of Puerto Rico: “I am glad to be here. It’s the first time I will be with the team as head coach, I’ve been working this summer as an assistant coach and now I will guide these young players. I am glad because it’s a group of veterans with young players and we expect to play game by game looking for the victory and giving our all. The message is for them to enjoy the game, to play with confidence, with confidence of what they will perform and for them to look for the win. The new members of the team are mostly the ones who play the U19 world championships and one who comes for the NCAA”.