Lausanne, Switzerland, November 8, 2019 – A key player for club and country, opposite Amir Ghafour took some time out from Iran's successful run at the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League last summer to talk about his teammates gaining experience from different club leagues and influences on his own career.
Ghafour made his debut in the men’s national team in 2011 and helped them to back-to-back Asian Championship titles in 2011 and 2013. Iran became a mainstay in international competitions and Ghafour’s contribution helped his country earn its first ever qualification for a volleyball tournament at the Olympic Games. After Rio 2016, he guided Iran to a bronze medal finish at the 2017 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Grand Champions Cup.
At a club level, Ghafour's career began playing for Iranian clubs. He played his first season abroad in 2018-2019 at Italian club True Volley Monza, before moving to another Italian club team, reigning Italian and European champions Cucine Lube Civitanova. Runners-up in 2018, the Italian club will hope to improve on that performance when they take part in the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship in Betim, Brazil from December 3 to 8.
Quick link: 2019 FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship
“A lot of Iranian players are in major European leagues and that has helped us to broaden our experience,” Ghafour explained. “It has had a positive effect on our game for the national team.”
Twenty-eight-year-old Ghafour has established himself as one of the top players in the men’s game and his inspiring performances at this year’s VNL helped Iran qualify for the Finals in Chicago, USA in July.
“From last year’s performance to the present, we’ve seen our team grow and become better and better. We were well-organised in play this year,” he said.
Ghafour’s success can be attributed to hours of hard work in training and learning from some of the best coaches in the sport.
“As you grow older you evolve as a player. You gain more experience from playing, and working with different coaches provides you learning on a number of techniques in training. I was inexperienced and immature as a young player but you gain more experience as time goes by and you add better techniques that help you perform better on the court.”
For Ghafour, learning never stops but he says his most valuable lesson came from Julio Velasco, the first person who gave him an opportunity to play for the senior national team.
Ghafour says former Iran coach Velasco played a key role in his career
“I’ve learned a lot from different coaches, players, friends and even the spectators. They all can teach you something that can positively affect the way you play.
“But if I were to choose just one in volleyball, I would absolutely choose the great Julio Velasco, because he taught us valuable lessons that helped me both in my career and in my personal life.
“He helped us change the way we see and play the game. One lesson that he would repeat again and again and that changed our outlook on volleyball was that all big players make mistakes. What is important is that you learn from those mistakes and do not make them again, because if you do then that is a bigger mistake.”
Ghafour's club Cucine Lube Civitanova will join hosts Sada Cruzeiro Volei, Russians Zenit Kazan and Qatari club Al-Rayyan at this year's edition of the FIVB Men's Club World Championship. The competition will feature many of the VNL's top players from December 3-8 with the Women's Club World Championship taking place at the same time in Shaoxing, China.
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