Interview by Masoud Hossein

Berruto: Olympics medal achievable for Iran

May 1, 2020 - 18:0

TEHRAN – Ex-Italy volleyball coach Mauro Berruto believes that Iran National Team have a chance of winning an Olympic Games medal depending on how they prepare for the Games.

Born in Turin, Berruto graduated in philosophy and started his career in volley with CUS Torino Pallavolo in 199 4 and was named Italy coach in 2010. A year later, he achieved the silver medal in the European Championship. Under his leadership, Italy defeated Bulgaria to gain the bronze medal in the 20120 Olympic Games in London.

At the World League 2013, his team achieved bronze, while in the same year he led the Italian team to the second consecutive silver medal in the European Championships.

Italy qualified to the final round of the World League 2014, held in Florence, and took another bronze medal.

In an exclusive interview with Tehran Times, Berruto has said the Iranian team are capable of winning the first-ever medal at the Olympic Games but the team needs to prepare well for the prestigious event.  

Tehran Times: As you know, Iran has been reportedly linked with Italian coaches Angelo Lorenzetti, Ferdinando De Giorgi, and Roberto Piazza. Do you think they are good choice for the Iranian team?

Mauro Berruto: I really don't want to judge. All of them are good coaches, of course, but they are very busy with their clubs in A1 league in Italy. I do believe that a coach of a high-level national team like Iran, should be committed 100% to the team. That was my decision when I had the honor to coach the Italian National Team. I left the club (it was Macerata at that time) and I worked five marvelous years for Italy and I was full-time committed to the national team. This is just my opinion of course!

 After parting ways with Italy in 2015, you have not coached any team and it seems you have retired from coaching volleyball.

After long time I decided to have a break from volleyball. I got many opportunities but I decided to make very different and beautiful things, like being a director of a university of storytelling and performing arts in my hometown, Torino. I never said that I'll not be back in volleyball. I think I'm still "quite" young, as a coach, in few days I'll be 51. But for sure if I'll be back it won't be with a club, if I'll be back it will be with a National Team. A team can light again a "fire" inside of me.


Mauro Berruto knows Iran volleyball well because he has traveled to Tehran to meet the Iranian team several times. Could you speak a little more in-depth about volleyball in Iran and also the Iranian fans?

 Playing against Iran (many times) was a beautiful experience. The team were and are absolutely high-level and their fans are hard to describe! I think Azadi Stadium is the noisiest hall I’ve ever seen! Really beautiful. And, also there is always an enormous number of Iranian fans, living in Italy. I think volleyball in Iran is something very important and it's easy to understand it, when you see with your own eyes. 

Iran joined the great teams in the world under stewardship of Julio Velasco and then continued its way with Lozano and Kolakovic. I think it’s a huge setback for Iran in its progressive process. What’s your opinion on this matter?

Iran must continue on this way. I know Iran has a huge project on youngsters and will have good players for long time! The only necessary thing is to increase the number of matches against five top ranked teams in the world. You become better when you play often against the best.

 You led Italy to a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympic Games at London. Do you think the Iranian team have a chance of winning a medal in the Olympics?

I will be straight: this have to be the target for the Iranian volleyball, for sure. Like all the great targets: difficult but achievable.

 You have a good knowledge of Iranian stars and I want to know if you want to choose one, which player is your choice?

I'm "in love" with Saeid Marouf. He's a great talent, not a giant physically and incredibly smart and with a great technique. And he's a leader, you can feel it.

 As a former coach of Lube, have you followed Amir Ghafour in the Italian team?

 Yes, Ghafour is a great player, but Iran has many good ones, really. Most of them absolutely ready for the very top level.

 Iran are the best team in Asia and the golden generation has lived up to all expectations so far. But the team needs fresh energy to stay on high. Do you anticipate a bright future for Iran volleyball?

As I said, a bright future depends on playing more against top teams. Sorry to say, but the Asiatic championship is not enough, is not the right target. If you want to compete for a medal at the Olympic Games (and you should!) you must play constantly against Brazil, Russia, the U.S., Italy, Poland, Serbia, France etc. Sorry again, but China or Japan or Korea are not the "right" competitors for Iran.

 Cancellation of the volleyball tournaments due to COVID-19 is a big blew to sport. Playing behind the closed doors could be a better way but FIVB doesn’t think so. What about you?

It's really early to answer to this question. In Italy the situation is still dramatic and the pandemic will have a huge effect on the sports economy. Personally, I can't imagine to play matches behind the closed doors. My passion for volleyball was so big when I felt the "magic" feeling between players and fans. And... really? Can you imagine Iran playing behind closed doors? I do hope we will find a solution to follow the real nature of sport: we need to inspire spectators. That is the sport that I love.

 And my last question, when do you come out of retirement?

As I told when somebody will propose me a project can make my heart beat faster.

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