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Obstacles in the rear-view mirror as Pereyra targets Tokyo Olympics


Pereyra returned to the Argentinean national team in 2019 after a five-year absence

Lausanne, Switzerland, July 25, 2020 – Obstacles can get into a volleyball player’s path in different ways. Not getting enough playing time, not being selected for the country’s national teams, changing clubs during a season and dealing with injuries are just some of the possible challenges, and Argentinean Federico Pereyra has had to overcome numerous hurdles over the last few years.

The 32-year-old opposite was in the process of establishing a career for himself in 2014. He had appeared at the London 2012 Olympics and won continental medals with the Argentinean national team. He had also enjoyed a successful trajectory at the club level with victories in the Argentinean and South American Championships with Club Bolivar, and a stint in Italy.

A change in the head coaching position in the Argentinean national team, however, with Julio Velasco replacing Javier Weber, started to change his path as the new coach didn’t have the opposite, the team’s second-best scorer in London, as part of his plans. And Pereyra didn’t feature for the team between 2014 and 2018, missing the Rio 2016 Olympics.  

“Every player goes through difficult moments and the way each of us faces these moments is always very particular,” he said in an Instagram live session with Somos Voley. “I haven’t been with the national team for quite some time due to a decision of the former coach and I totally respected it. But as a player who always dreamed about being with the national team, it was frustrating. But sometimes difficulties make you stronger.”

Pereyra’s fortunes started to change in 2019, when Marcelo Mendez was hired to replace Velasco and decided to give him another look. The opposite had his first busy summer in five years last season, appearing at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League and the Olympic Qualification tournament, where Argentina secured their spot at the Tokyo Games.

Later in the season, however, the obstacles reappeared. The Argentinean had signed to play in France for Spacer’s Toulouse Volley, but a tendon injury forced him to leave the club without playing and to continue his career in Saudi Arabia with Al-Hilal. He also missed the chance to be at the 2019 FIVB Volleyball World Cup.

“It was a year of high highs and low lows,” he explained. “It was great to return to the national team, put the jersey on, travel around the world and practice at the highest level again. But unfortunately I had the injury later, which sort of compromised my club season, but these injuries are part of our lives as athletes.” 

Pereyra had the best of impressions during his short time with the national team last summer and not just because the team accomplished its main goal in the season and qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.

Now a veteran, the opposite believes the team is much stronger mentally now than it was when he had last been a part of it, back in 2014.

“I feel that in the past we lacked some maturity as a team,” he reflected. “Returning to the national team last season, I can tell we’re much better in that aspect. We can win or lose, but we’re always a solid and consistent team and that was something that really made me happy to see. The energy with the team was very good and we enjoyed ourselves while we accomplished our goals.”

Pereyra (12) in action for Argentina during the London 2012 Olympics

The return to the national team reignited Pereyra’s fire to be at the Olympics again. To do that, the opposite knows he’ll need to put on strong performances during the upcoming 2020-2021 club season. Still out of contract, the Argentinean, who was the best scorer of the 2010 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship, knows exactly what he’s looking for as he evaluates offers from clubs around the world.

“I want to perform well for the club I play for and hopefully I can have another opportunity with the national team,” he added. “I want to play in a league where I’ll be in demand so I can be at the best of my form and earn my place with the national team, which to me is the highest point of the career of any athlete.”