He is one of the most talented young coaches in the world of volleyball. Started his volleyball journey as a player than as a statistician, assistant coach and later on became head coach for both club and national team. He had an incredible journey so far and the path is still long and it seems to be a very successful one. But he’ll tell us more in the next few minutes. You should read and then read again as this is one of the best interviews I’ve done thanks to the answers this man gave me. With no further introduction, I welcome mister Ferhat Akbas, the head coach of CSM Bucharest female volleyball team and Japan female volleyball team.
Hello mister Akbas and welcome at vladpop.com. The first question is always the easiest one: what does volleyball mean to you?
It is a very simple answer.A day of my life starts with it and finishes with it. A passion that directs all my life. It means everything.
If I did my homework correctly, at first you wanted to play basketball. Looking behind you now, do you consider that arriving at a volleyball team and playing was a great “twist of fate”?
Exactly , and I am very happy that I met with volleyball. After many years, volleyball still looks more enjoyable and a more team-based sport to me.
You are one of the very successful young volleyball coaches. But the path was not that easy as you worked very hard for it. You started as a statistician for Galatasaray and also continued as a statistician at Turk Telekom Ankara. How helpful for you is now as a head coach the fact that you progressed through all the steps of this job, starting as a statistician?
I suggest all the new coaches to scout in one point of their career. It helps you to understand the game better , it gets a lot easier to see the important details. If you want to be a tactical expert , scouting will help you a lot. If you know how to scout , you can read the analyses better and in much efficient way. More important than that, it gives you a great habit to study the game. Every high level team coach has scouts that give many information to the coaches. The key part is , how to read it , how to study it and and to decide how much amount of information is necessary for the players.
The next path in your career was being the assistant coach for a legendary name of female volleyball: Lang Ping. How was it working with her? How much did you learn from her as you also accompanied her when she coached in China too?
It is my turning point on my volleyball journey.She is my teacher.I know almost all high level coaches personally , I was lucky to work with the best ones , but Lang Ping is the best coach that I worked with.Before I met with her I wasn’t aware of thinking in the way of an Asian.They look to the world in a different way.After a great volleyball career , Lang Ping moves to USA.She combines her Chinese way of thinking with the knowledge and experiences from another country.While I was working with her , I was so young that I tried to take her as an example figure.
There is a saying that besides learning, being a coach also means “stealing the skills” of every coach you ever worked with. Which skills did you “steal” from Lang Ping that serves you even today?
I can share and tell the one which is the simplest thing to do.It is very useful also in any life decision.You know , coaches life is based on taking decisions.How good you are about the decisions , you are going to be that good.She taught me to take decisions just in the moments you are in peace , quiet and relaxed..Otherwise the emotions and situation you are in , effects your decision.If you watch her during the games , you will never see her going out of control , getting crazy with some reason or yelling to people during the games.My culture is different but I try this way of thinking all the time.I am trying to take all the decisions with a healthier way of thinking.
I was amazed that you took no breaks and used every opportunity to learn more and more the skills and trades of your job. For example in the summer of 2012, when the club teams were in holyday, you went and worked as a statistician for Veljko Basic when he was head coach of the male Turkey national team. Is this the secret of becoming a great coach: constant working and constant learning?
As I told before I am a lucky coach that I could find these opportunities.It was great to work with men national volleyball team , which is a different sport than women volleyball in my opinion.I represent my country from very young age , all these experiences helps me in some moment.I don’t remember a holiday that I did for a long time.New experiences gives me confidence and energy.I hope I can always work high level and grow.
In 2013 you started your role as the assistant coach for one of the greatest coaches, mister Giovanni Guidetti in Vakifbank. How was that period spent at one of the most powerful volleyball clubs of the world? One thing that you learned from Giovanni?
They were the dream seasons that nobody had , except the players and the staff that was there that years. We won everything , every single game , we dominated world volleyball , became European and world champions.Our success is recorded in Guinness Records book.I worked there for 3 seasons and I always remember it with a smile on my face.About Giovanni , I can say that , focusing to the details of the game and showing the ‘will’ to win a cup or a match , makes his players believe to the victory.
All these things happened until you were 28 years old and that’s why it is so impressive. At 28, you were appointed as head coach of Turkey female national team and you managed to win the 2014 Women’s European Volleyball League against Germany coached by Giovanni Guidetti, your former boss. How did you feel winning against him? How did you feel winning with your home country as head coach?
Representing your country , is something special.We won European League title and European games title , also we had some bad moments as Olympic qualification tournament.Each experience gave me a lot , I am trying to reach to the best version of myself.It is all meaningful when you lose or win something.Volleyball world is quiet small , so one day we are opponents. , other day we are on the same side.So I don’t care a lot who the opponent is , I try to focus to my team and myself.
For the past season and continuing you are the head coach of CSM Bucharest. How did you find Romanian volleyball compared with the Turkish league?
The main difference is the budget of the clubs in Romania.Many clubs are directed with smaller budgets , but budget is not everything.Romanian Volleyball is improving a lot.We need to keep it in this way all together.Better sport halls , better gyms can help this a lot.Turkish volleyball made a big step after building volleyball gyms which is not shared by other sports.And the other thing is , sharing information , helping each other is always makes the difference.If a club is successful , it is good for everybody , if a coach did a good job , it is an opportunity for another coach.If a referee is good , it is good for a player.Everything which is connected with volleyball is connected with each other, too.Lets do it better all together.
I’ve been following the Romanian volleyball championship for 17 years now and I’ve seen it grow. Unfortunately the financial factor is of high importance in any business and volleyball makes no exception. Considering this factor it seems there will be a battle of two for the championship this season: CSM Bucharest against Volei Alba Blaj. Do you think there will be other teams also to influence or fight for the Championship?
Bacau and Targoviste is always a big force in this league.As a newcomer Timisoara made a good job , too.I hope there can be more teams that can target top 3 spots in the league.
This summer, like no other transfer window before, it seemed like a transfer race between you and Volei Alba Blaj. You managed to snatch from them Adina Salaoru, their captain for the past four years and they managed in signing two of your best players from last season: Susana Cebic and Ioana Baciu. How do you comment this transfer market activity?
Our strategy has nothing to do with the other teams.We are trying to improve our team system adding new players to the ones that were already with us.We kept the team basis and we are trying strengthen our team. Salaoru is a player that can give us a lot. Cebic gave great confidence to us with her experience , she was a great captain. Baciu made the biggest step in her career last season.I wish them good luck and the best for the next season.
For the first time in its very short history, your club will play in the Champions League this season. I know the format is changed now and what Volei Alba Blaj managed last season is very improbable to happen again soon, but what is your objective for this season in the Champions League?
Champions League success is the most important success in CSM club history.First time we are going to have the opportunity to play with the ‘elite category’ teams.We are going to challenge ourselves and try our best for it.It gives me great motivation.We are going to participate 1st time as CSM team , but we deal with the players who has great experiences in Champions League and international volleyball. The objective is hard to tell until we see the drawing of lots.It can be easy and hard groups and we don’t know which opponents we are going to face.Only thing I can guarantee ; people who watch our games is going to see a team fighting very hard for the victory.
I am a huge fan of Imoco Volley Conegliano and I had the chance to spend a lot of time with the staff and the players during the Champions League Final Four tournament in May. I noticed that this year, except one player, the starting six remains. The same in Vakifbank. In a world of volley where entire team rosters change from one year to another, is this a key to success, keeping the players for multiple years?
Stability always brings success in sports.The teams that you count has the budget and organizational power to keep the same players or build totally a new team.They are choosing a strategy and they keep their team.This brings success.We kept 4 key players from the last season and added experienced players to make the team stronger.I hope and believe that we can do good job.
Is it all about the money in today’s volleyball? Vakifbank has a 14 million euro budget, there are some Russian teams with huge budgets as well. Is it all about the money or sometimes money can’t buy success?
Team spirit is always bigger than budgets.Budget is a tool just to create the great team.But team spirit , team culture is built with patience , hard work in years.This is what we are trying to do in CSM. Working hard , trying to get the team better and stronger year by year.The result shows that we are on the right path.
You are also involved with the Japan national team. A totally different culture. How do you manage to deal with it?
I try to live as a Japanese here. I try to always remind me , in each situation , Japanese people thinks in a different way. It is better to adapt and understand. It is very enjoyable to be on the court with Japanese players. Because you don’t need to repeat what you want from them. They focus easily to the information and they work harder than every player on the world.
Rumours say that besides your current setter, Hashimoto, we’ll see two more Japanese players in CSM Bucharest for this season. Can you confirm that?
We are building our team and we announced the transfers that we did. I suggest everybody to follow our club official website and social media accounts , they can see the new transfers on the right time.So they can get all the news in a very quick and official way.
Your thoughts for this season?
I wish all the participants a great season with great experiences , great matches with Fair Play. Each of us needs to announce and inform volleyball activity to the people that doesn’t follow volleyball in Romania. Each person that is involved positively to volleyball in Romania can make our sports grow.
Mister Akbas thank you again for your availability.
Thank you so much for the interview and your interest on Volleyball.