|Jastrzebie-Zdroj, Poland, December 1, 2017. JASTRZEBSKI Wegiel and BERLIN Recycling Volleys will be locking horns on December 6 in a very intriguing match scheduled for the League Round of the 2018 CEV Volleyball Champions League – Men. These two teams share a number of connections – which makes the upcoming matchup even more interesting.
“The relationship between JASTRZEBSKI Wegiel and BERLIN Recycling Volleys is maybe closer than for a lot of other clubs, especially when it comes to clubs from different countries,” said the head coach of the Polish team, Mark Lebedew.
The contacts began many years ago. Lebedew started his career in Poland in 2007 working along with Roberto Santilli’s coaching staff at JASTRZEBSKI Wegiel. Strictly speaking, Lebedew was responsible for physical conditioning at the time. However, he dreamt about working as a first coach, so when such an opportunity arose in 2009 with SG Eschenbacher Eltmann, he decided to move to Germany. A couple of years later, Lebedew returned to Jastrzębie-Zdrój as head coach of the BERLIN Recycling Volleys for the pre-season presentation of JASTRZEBSKI Wegiel and a friendly match. After that premiere, he accepted such an invitation several times more.
“We have this connection from proximity, because the cities are quite close together, and there is of course a lot of individual connections as well,” explained Lebedev who spent five years with the BR Volleys taking the German national league title three times and finishing as runner-up on another two occasions. When they hosted the Final Four tournament in 2015, Lebedew helped the BR Volleys claim a historic CEV Champions League bronze medal. After that, he returned to his former club from Poland and is now spending his third straight season with the team from Upper Silesia.
The BR Volleys have a new coach this year – Luke Reynolds, who last season worked in JASTRZEBSKI Wegiel and helped them take bronze from the last edition of the PlusLiga. “I am certainly looking forward to coming back to Jastrzebie-Zdroj. I have lots of amazing memories from last year with the players and staff,” Reynolds said.
Another interesting thing is that Mark Lebedew is also in charge of the Australian national team and Reynolds is his assistant there. A couple of his players from the Volleyroos group are wearing the shirt of the BR Volleys, namely Paul Carroll, Luke Perry and Adam White.
What does this confrontation mean for the Australian coach? “I have lot of things that come to my mind. Firstly, we can talk about Luke and Australian players I spent the whole summer with, or the players that played there when I was there – such as Robert Kromm, Sebastian Kühner and Egor Bogachev. I think about the five years I spent in Berlin, the city of Berlin and how much my family and I enjoyed living there. My son was born in Berlin,” listed Lebedew.
Another person embodying this special connection between JASTRZEBSKI Wegiel and the BR Volleys is Salvador Hidalgo Oliva. His parents are Cuban, he was born in Leningrad (currently Saint Petersburg) and he has been living in Berlin for the last ten years. He also played for the BERLIN Recycling Volleys for two seasons (2009-2011).
“The BR Volleys are part of my family. It is a great club where I grew up as a player and as a person. I remember almost everything I did there: great players, managers, fans, the Max-Schmeling-Halle and the city as well,” Hidalgo Oliva said. “Berlin is a city that has opened the door to everyone and let you feel like you are at home even when you were born in Russia like me. That’s why I always play with the German flag on my fingers, being loyal to that country,” he added.
However, once the two teams take to the court, there will not be any room for such feelings. “We are fighting for progression to the next round. Personal things and connections stay aside. Maybe they make the motivation even bigger than it would normally be. So it will be a tough game between two teams that are close together,” predicted coach Lebedew.
The Match will be shown on www.laola1.tv