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Bernardinho reveals the roadmap of the French team for 2022

During almost an hour of an interview rich in lessons, the new coach of the French volleyball team, Bernardo Rezende (62), laid the groundwork for an ambition which he hopes will be the mark factory of the future successes of the France team. The Blues will compete this year in the traditional VNL (group stage from June 7 to July 10, Final 8 scheduled for July 20 to 24) as well as the world championships (August 26-September 11).

In a bulimic sport of competitions of all kinds, the emotion generated by an Olympic coronation, as intense as it was, had every chance of being sucked up by the calendar, especially when it requires these same Olympic champions to cover to compete in a Euro in stride, supervised by a brand new staff.

Not yet come down from its emotional cloud – some barely realize today, six months after the coronation -, what is more physically exhausted by several months of hard work devoted exclusively to this objective of the Olympic Games, the France group had every chance of crashing. What was done with an elimination from the round of 16 of the competition against the surprising Czech Republic.

“It’s still hard for me, this elimination, I think it’s my responsibility,” sighs the demanding Bernardinho (62), whom we interviewed on Monday, when a meeting was to be held for him in videoconference with the staff of the France team.

With a lot of verve and passion in our various exchanges, marked both by his elegance and his humility, the new master of the French team, who is a living legend in his sport (double Olympic champion and three-time world champion with Brazil, he holds the biggest track record in world volleyball), the Brazilian Bernardo Rocha de Rezende projected himself on year I of his mandate, revealing the roadmap for the next ten years.

Because yes, Laurent Tillie’s replacement is not only thinking of the Paris Olympics in 2024, and sees far beyond, with planning, work to be done to keep the French team at the top, thought for the long term. . At least until the Los Angeles Games (2028). This does not mean that he already sees himself there, but the new coach of the Blues wants to draw a horizon, a course to reach, an ideal.

Beranrdinho, who seems inhabited by his function
Beranrdinho, who seems inhabited by his function © @AFP

Young talents to bring out

Predestined for a career in finance (he has very advanced knowledge of mathematics and is a graduate in economics), Bernardinho is a man who thirsts for culture and enriches himself with others: “I want to learn from French culture and be after 2024 a better manager, rich in everything I hope to experience with France by then,” he told RMC Sport. “I don’t have the answer to everything, but I still have a lot of energy to improve myself”, smiles the Brazilian, eager to operate a mixture of the two cultures, which he thinks are soluble in one another. other.

Moreover, the former coach of the Seleçao does not think for a moment that he has the magic recipe, even if he believes very strongly in his training methods, in a style quite distinct from that of Laurent Tillie. And does not hesitate to question its own methods to achieve the achievement of a goal. An ambition that could be summed up in one word, which he repeated over and over again during our interview: consistency. Consistency in the coherence of the project, but also consistency in the solidity of the results. From this point of view, the heritage left by French handball inspired him a lot.

“I spoke with Mr. Tanguy (the president of the French Volleyball Federation), I’m not trying to reproduce the example of the NFL or the NBA. No, no, I’m looking at France. What handball has done, volleyball must be inspired by it, find this path of consistency at the highest level. We must learn from handball. I want to know more about their history, that of Claude Onesta and the players who have made the history of the French handball team. An exceptional story. Volleyball has the possibility of reproducing that.”

Just as the Experts have won everything (3 Olympic titles, 4 world champion titles, 2 European champion titles) for almost a decade, the man who presides over the destiny of the Blues of volleyball wants his team aims and reaches the final in all competitions: “We don’t have an Olympic champion bonus when we start competitions, the only things that have changed are the responsibilities and the expectations”, he insists with conviction . Summer work is usually quite heavy, the usual hard core will not be able to support such a requirement over time.

This is why Bernardinho intends to rely on a larger group, and intends to invest in youth, “find a space for expression” so that young players can flourish in the club and have a chance to prove their value in selection. : “I want to say to the coaches of the French clubs, my door will always be open to you, to come to training, to exchange, they will always be open. We must understand that the clubs and the selection, the league and the federation are complementary, have to work together. Young French players need more opportunities to play, I don’t think against experienced players, but we have to make more room for young players.”

Boyer, an attitude to be forgiven

Ibrahim Lawani (20 years old, sharp) and Kellian Paes (19 years old, passer), two young players from Paris Volley joined the French team last summer, in the wake of the Olympics, wearing this blue jersey for the first time. , waiting for the return of the heroes. Emerging from a studious summer spent partly in the company of the Blues, Lawani made a solid start to the season at the forefront of the Parisian attack, where he assumed great responsibilities despite his young age. Convinced by the boy’s potential in a very dense game sector, where there are four or five players (Faure, Patry, Boyer, Lawani…) to potentially compete for the position, Bernardinho anticipated the next move, imagining a future for Lawani… at post 4, the person concerned knowing very well how to receive.

Bernardinho challenges Théo Faure
Bernardinho challenges Théo Faure © @IconSport

“I keep all the possibilities. When you look at the France team, we have Earvin Ngapeth, who is a special player, but there is only one like him. And besides, there are very good players like Kevin (Tillie), Trevor (Clévenot), or Julien Lyneel (Montpellier), technically exceptional players, but I’m also looking for possibilities to have a physically stronger player”, explains Bernardinho. “Kellian was very good last summer with us, there is a real possibility that he will continue with us, but he must find playing time with his club, it is essential,” he added. , about the son (prodigy) of his deputy, Mauricio Paes.

The boss of the Blues promises that his group will remain open, especially since the executives of the France team may not all be ready to play the first stage of the VNL in Canada next summer (Italy , Canada, Poland and Serbia on the program, from June 7 to 12). All reinforcements will then be welcome, especially in the central sector, where the needs exist.

All? For Stephen Boyer, absent from the Olympic qualification tournament in Berlin, officially for personal reasons, then again absent at the Euro, “it depends on him, on what he wants to do”. “Stephen Boyer must change in attitude, show the whole group, but also me, that he really wants to play for this team”, asserts the coach. “I have a long career behind me, I always try to understand the context, and I can understand certain situations, it does not mean that I agree,” warns Bernardinho.

With a view to the Games, however, there is no question for the boss of the Blues to imagine the French team playing Paris 2024 without the captains Earvin Ngapeth, Benjamin Toniutti, or even Jenia Grebennikov. Why? “Because it is impossible to be a candidate for a medal in 2024 without these players.”

Quentin Migliarini (with Morgan Besa)

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