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THE TURKISH SMILE

My guest today is someone whom I always saw smiling. She is always positive and optimistic and chill. Yet she is very involved in the life of the team she plays for and, as her team mates told me, she is a great catalyst in a team of strong characters as she always has something positive to share. She played for Eczacıbaşı, for Ereğli Belediye, for Nilüfer Belediyesi and for Galatasaray. I met her while she played for Volei Alba Blaj and now she just signed for the Italian Serie A club Cuneo. She comes from Turkey and her name is Selime Ilyasoglu.

Hello Selime and welcome at vladpop.com. It’s a pleasure for me to have you here. I will start with the easiest question: what is volleyball to you?

I know that maybe will sound as a cliche, but volleyball is life. I can also add passion and dedication.

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The previous season you played for Volei Alba Blaj, the vice-champions of Europe in 2017-2018. How does that sound: vice-champion of Europe? Did you even imagine when you signed for Blaj that you will play the final of the Champions League?

Of course that no one could have ever imagined at the beginning of the season that kind of success. No one. But believe or not there was still a feeling that something big could happen, a big cup, some sort of a big success. I personally felt it from the beginning till the end that there will be an important medal at the end.

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Blaj was your first experience outside Turkey. Was it what you expected to be?

I only wanted to concentrate on improving my self and to have a different journey in my career, different of what I had until then. Trust me that it was more than I have expected, I collected unforgettable memories.

You started the season as an outside hitter, the position you played all your life, and ended it as a libero. Could we see you more in this position in the future?

I don’t like to make long term plans. I just love playing volleyball and as long as I am playing I try to enjoy it so why not?

Your next destination is now unveiled: the Italian Serie A Cuneo. So the experience outside Turkey continues. What are your expectations for this season?

Italy is one of my dream leagues in the whole world so when I got the offer I just thought that everything comes my way the way I dreamed about it. So now I I’ll just keep dreaming some more :). As I have already told you, I don’t make plans, so no expectations, just trying to enjoy every single moment along my path.

In continuance with a previous sentence, in Cuneo you are ready to play as an outside hitter?

Of course. I am getting ready to return on my position.

I had the chance to meet you several times and talk to you and I was amazed by your serenity and about the fact that you always had a huge smile on your face. What is your secret for always being so positive?

I am so happy you think this way. There is no secret really. It really comes from deep inside of me. I always saw it inside my family, the good will I have from them and so it goes like that. I do not pretend to be positive, I always try to have a new perspective on life. I try to see the good in every situation.

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I talked to you the morning of the Champions League semi-final about the match against Galatasaray and you were extremely positive and had a feeling that your team will play the final for sure. You were right and Blaj reached somewhere no one believed they would. How do you feel being part of the Romanian volleyball history?

Nothing could have made me feel as satisfied as that. I always kept believing. Always keep believing in miracles and they happen. All the time!

In the Champions League Final Four your played against two teams from Turkey, one of them being one of your former team, Galatasaray. What were your feelings seeing all your country men on the other side of the net, understanding everything they say, yet you playing for the other team?

Actually I was not looking to the other side of the net at all. Not in those moments. When you are a professional player these kind of emotions don’t belong. I only focused on my team and tried to give my best for Blaj.

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Which are the values you guide your life upon?

There are many values that guide my life but the most important one is to appreciate even the smallest things, to be grateful for everything I have in my life. Also patience is very important to me and this is a chapter that I still try to improve about my self. And there is more: love, hope and believe in miracles as they happen everyday if you just change your perspective!

Your brother is a very talented basketball player. How proud are you of him?

Oh, I can’t even describe what I feel about my brother and I can only be humble for him. I just try to make him strong especially when it comes to the mental side. I believe that controlling your emotions is the most important thing for a professional player.

I also know you are a passionate reader. Which are your favorite books and authors?

Anthony Robbins and Robin Sharma are two of my favorite writers. Now for example, I am reading about quantum physics and personal development.

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This is also a blog about music so I have to ask you a couple things: favorite song, favorite artist, favorite music genre?

Right now I am listening a lot of chill and lounge music. Before the matches I have a list loaded, mostly with r&B.

In Blaj did you have a special song to celebrate when you were winning?

Actually we did, there was a Romanian song but you’ll have to ask my former Romanian team mates what song it was.

Selime, I wish you all the best in your new Italian adventure and I hope to see you soon.

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