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15/04/2015 13:56
Fé Garay’s thoughts on second CEV Cup win, upcoming Club World Champs and the dream of a home Olympic Games in Rio
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Krasnodar, Russia, April 15, 2015. On Saturday night Brazil’s Volleyball star Fernanda Garay Rodrigues added another medal to her collection and actually by doing this she also accomplished a terrific feat, winning back-to-back titles in the CEV Volleyball Cup – Women with two different teams. She did so last year wearing the shirt of Fenerbahce SK. ISTANBUL and repeated herself in 2015, this time playing for Russia’s Dinamo KRASNODAR.

“Well, I am very proud of these achievements and of what I did with both teams,” Fernanda explains. “Though many people do focus only on the CEV Volleyball Champions League, the CEV Volleyball Cup is also very important and it is a difficult competition too. Last year we had a difficult season with Fenerbahce but in the end we won that trophy and this one has been even more difficult to achieve. We have a new team here in Krasnodar, so there are many things that we still have to improve and work on. On top of this, after we won the first match quite easy here and we got three points, many felt like everything was decided already but it wasn’t so. We knew we could expect a difficult match in Poland because SOPOT have a lot of supporters and this is how it turned out to be. We lost the match there and we went to the golden set, which is like a live-or-die situation. I am really happy and proud that we could stand that difficult situation and win in the end.”

The victory in the CEV Volleyball Cup is somehow a compensation for the disappointment that Fernanda and Dinamo KRASNODAR suffered in the Russian Superleague where they surprisingly lost to Uralochka-NTMK EKATERINBURG in the quarterfinals. Fé Garay – as she is known back home in Brazil – sums up her first season in Russia: “You know, for me everything was pretty new. We had to travel extensively, we have played a lot of matches and all of these games are difficult because your opponents here in Russia are all extremely competitive. Of course we did not expect to lose in the quarterfinals and we were really upset because we were thinking about playing in the semis and then for the title. However, we regrouped and came back strong showing in the CEV Cup finals that what happened with Uralochka was our mistake and some kind of accident.”

Fernanda has been a globe trotter and she is taking lessons from each one of her experiences around the world: “You know, every time I have played away from Brazil I could learn something new and evolve in a positive way. In Japan, for instance, I had to get used to players performing so well and strong in defence, whilst in Turkey they have their own style as well. In Russia it’s again different because all players are very tall and physically strong, so I have had to adjust tactically and improve on my performance in attack.”

Fernanda is not the only top Brazilian player who has been performing abroad this season, her captain in the national team, Sheilla Castro, has for instance moved to Turkey and is playing for VakifBank. “There are probably different reasons for that,” Fernanda explains, “but mostly I think that playing abroad you get a chance to evolve and improve. It’s not just about the good offers you get from a financial perspective, but also about the overall experience you get from living and playing abroad.”

After seizing the trophy of the CEV Volleyball Cup, Dinamo KRASNODAR will participate in early May in the FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship in Zurich. Dinamo will make their first appearance in the competition after receiving a wild-card and will carry Europe’s hopes there together with Turkey’s Eczacibasi VitrA ISTANBUL, the winners of this year’s CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League. “I do expect very difficult matches and a difficult tournament in Zurich where some real world-class teams will compete,” Fernanda says. “I do not want to single out any of their players because they are all strong as a team. So, we have to stick together and play our best if we want to win some matches there. I do not want to set any specific goal; I think we have to take it step by step, match after match, especially since the tournament is relatively short.”

One of the teams that Dinamo may play in Zurich comes from Brazil and Fernanda knows very well many of the players wearing the shirt of Rexona Ades from Rio de Janeiro: “It is going to be interesting. I know them very well and so I can brief my teammates and our coach with some useful information to prepare for the match, on the other hand they also know me and our Brazilian setter Fabiola very well, so this is not that good,” Fernanda explains and laughs.

Finally, it’s only 15 months to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and Fernanda will be trying to use the home advantage to win her second Olympic gold following London 2012. “I think it’s really good that the Olympics are taking place in Brazil because all eyes will be on our country and many people will get to know a lot more about Brazil. On the other hand, from a Volleyball perspective, there will be a lot of pressure on our shoulders. Volleyball is really popular right now in Brazil and I know that everyone there is willing to buy tickets to follow our matches. Of course I am looking forward to it and I am trying to get ready not only in order to play well but also mentally, because as I said, the pressure on us will be enormous and this is something we have to be ready to cope with.”

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