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23/12/2014 14:31
Getting to know: ‘One to Watch’ Tomas Rousseaux
2015 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League - Men

Roeselare, Belgium, December 23, 2014. Tomas Rousseaux is only 20 years old, and even though the 16 points he scored last Tuesday were not enough to help Knack ROESELARE seize the night in their 2015 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League home match with Tomis CONSTANTA, still his performance drew much attention from fans and media alike and eventually propelled him into the player featured on the ‘One to Watch’ video released after completion of the fourth leg of Europe’s elite competition.

Click here to view the ‘Stars in Motion’ video featuring Tomas Rousseaux

“Well, I was very surprised once I got to know that I was the One to Watch for this round,” Rousseaux says. “Actually my first reaction was: wow, me! This means that I am standing at the same level of elite players like Samuele Papi and Sergey Tetyukhin, my Volleyball heroes! These are players with a CV that I can only dream about! On top of this, I have seen that some more actions from the match with Tomis were retained also for that other video, the Most Amazing Rallies. So I am overwhelmed with joy and pride but still keep my feet firm on the ground since I am only 20 years old.”

Rousseaux is the second player from a Belgian team to be featured as the ‘One to Watch’ after that same honour went to Krisztian Padar of Noliko MAASEIK, who achieved that feat some days before turning 18 at the end of the first leg. It looks like Belgian teams can provide young, up-and-coming players with the perfect stage where to shine and improve their skills.
“I think that our national league and especially teams like Precura ANTWERP, Noliko MAASEIK, Volley behappy2 ASSE-LENNIK and of course Knack ROESELARE provide young players with great opportunities,” Tomas Rousseaux acknowledges. “Even more once you get the chance to play in the CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League or in the CEV Volleyball Cup. Young players like Padar, me or Piotr Orczyk, who currently plays for ASSE-LENNIK, get some extra training and the perfect chance to develop their skills. We do not have to play at the highest level in every match or we do not have to sit on the bench waiting for our chance to join the actions, like it would happen if we were playing for other teams in Russia, Italy, or Poland.”

Rousseaux comes from a Volleyball family and Volleyball is somehow in his genes. However, Volleyball was his own choice: “I also played football for three years until I turned 13. I was a striker for KFC Meise, a local football club. However, already at that time I used to combine both sports, I mean I could even train first for football and then for Volleyball on the same day. I was not obliged to opt for Volleyball even though both my father Emile and my mom, Karin Wallyn, were both national team players for Belgium. However, when you are surrounded by such environment and at home you eat, drink and live for Volleyball, so to speak, it was rather normal that I ended up choosing this sport. Still I would like to stress that it has been our choice for me and also for my sister Hélène. We never got fed up with Volleyball.”

Tomas is being coached by his father Emile in Roeselare. How does this work, can they split their family connection from the duties they have in their job? “I consider my father the best coach and trainer we have here in Belgium,” Tomas says. “Therefore I am very thankful and feel lucky that I can work, train and play every day under his guidance. My father stands out for his passion, drive, competitiveness, winning attitude. These are all things that I admire in him and that I am trying to emulate. There is of course also an emotional bond between us. When I was younger I had more difficulties to deal with the attitude he showed towards me. I always had the impression that he was demanding more from me than he was doing from any other of the young players he mentored. And when I was reprimanded by him, sometimes it felt like this was really hurting me inside. However, as you get older, you realise that he only wants the best for you and that his intentions were always sincere and nicely meant.”

Tomas’ sister, Hélène, is a regular member of the ‘Yellow Tigers’ and last year won a historic European Championship bronze medal. However, Belgium’s ‘Red Dragons’ have been doing well too lately. Does Tomas see himself as a future, key member of the national team? “Last summer I have been struggling with knee injuries and I wanted to fully recover, so for this reason I decided to take some rest and not to join the national team. However, of course my dream and my goal are to become a key member of the national team in the future. I played for Belgium’s national team in all age groups and want to do so also with the senior squad.”

Which are the ultimate goals that the young, yet ambitious Tomas has set for his Volleyball career? “I believe that like any other Volleyball player my ultimate dream is to participate in the Olympics, the World Championship and the World League with my national team. That must be the dream of any other talented Volleyball player, I guess. At this stage, and since I am only 20, I want to get some more experience with my current team, Knack ROESELARE, as this gives me the opportunity to play against some of my Volleyball idols from the time I was still a child. This happened also this season when we played Copra Volley PIACENZA and Samuele Papi, one of my Volleyball heroes. Of course I also would like to make the Final Four at least once in my career. It is also my dream to play in the Italian, French or Polish national leagues, as many of the players that I closely follow are doing right now. So it must be a thrill to meet them on the court and play with or against them week after week. Individually I want to develop into one of Europe’s top outside spikers. This is the position that fits the best to me. I want to become an all-round player who combines good attack with excellent block, serve and reception skills.”

At Knack ROESELARE Tomas is being coached by his father and by Steven Vanmedegael, who was his ‘boss’ and mentor back in 2012 when Rousseaux won a bronze medal with his national team at the CEV U20 Volleyball European Championship in Gdynia, Poland. “That tournament is still stamped indelibly on my memory. We had a very talented young team, most of them students from the Volleyball school in Vilvoorde where we had been working with coaches like Claudio Gewehr, my father and of course Steven Vanmedegael. It was the first time in Belgian Volleyball history that a junior team won a medal at the European Championship. And for me, personally, Steven is more than just my coach. He is also very competent and a future leading personality on Volleyball in my country. I must consider myself very fortunate that I can learn a lot from coaches like him and my father and that this happens every day.”

Finally, one last question: does Tomas have any Volleyball idol, a role model his looks up at or somebody that he would like to emulate? “When I was still a young boy, about twelve, thirteen years old, my Volleyball idol was the Brazilian player Giba. When I played Volleyball with my older brother and sister, I was always the ‘Giba-boy’. But also Italian players such as Samuele Papi, Lorenzo Bernardi and Andrea Giani are role models for me. They were also outside spikers with an attractive style. Their Volleyball was like a piece of art. And then, there are the Polish outside spikers like Bartosz Kurek and Michal Winiarski, they also belong to my bunch of idols.”

We will keep on following our ‘One to Watch’, as there is certainly more to come from this young, yet very determined and ambitious rising star of European Volleyball…

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