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06/04/2020 12:00
‘Moving to Italy was one of the best decisions in my life’ – Magdalena Stysiak
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Luxembourg, April 6, 2020. At only 19 years of age and standing 203 cm tall, Magdalena Stysiak is definitely one of the rising stars on the international Volleyball stage. Stysiak has been spending her first year abroad, playing for Italian standout Savino Del Bene SCANDICCI. Right now, she is staying at home, like we all do, waiting to know whether competition will resume or not after the stop resulting from the outbreak and spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am still working out every single day,” Magda says. “Luckily, I live in a rather small village, and my home has a garden as well, so I can spend some time outdoors as well. Three times a week, we have a training session with the other members of the team through videoconference. I am especially working on my back and trying to stay active, while keeping contact with the family in Poland.”

Stysiak is sure that moving to Italy was the right thing to do. “This has been one of the best decisions I have made in my life this far! It has been a truly great experience and I can see how I have been developing as a player and as human being as well. I would definitely encourage more players from Poland to try the same experience. The Italian national league is probably the strongest and most competitive one in the world. Turkey have a very strong league too, but there is a big gap between the top four teams and the remaining ones. On the contrary, in Italy the level of all teams is very high and you have to focus on every single match if you want to win – there is no easy opponent or match to play here.”

Magdalena Stysiak in action with the shirt of Savino Del Bene SCANDICCI

Magda is not only happy with her improvement, but with life in Italy as well. “Obviously, the current lockdown is something that none could have expected. Apart from these last few weeks, it has been a truly great experience. I feel at home and the staff from the club is always ready to help and support with any sort of little problem I may have. The atmosphere in the team is great too. Lonneke Slöetjes is 10 years older and she plays as an opposite hitter too – but this does not matter at all. We always help each other no matter who plays and Samantha Bricio has been extremely supportive as well,” Stysiak continues. “I have started to learn some Italian – the Volleyball jargon is now all clear and I can understand everything that our coaches say; I am taking language lessons to improve my understanding of Italian outside of Volleyball as well, in order to have a closer relationship with the fans and other people too.”

Standing at 203 cm, Stysiak obviously has natural features that make her suited to Volleyball. “When I was a child, let’s say around the age of 10, I would spend quite some of my time playing soccer with the boys from my village. However, we can say that Volleyball was some sort of love at first sight. I was never interested in basketball, especially because of the physical contact, while I play tennis or billiard just for fun in my spare time.”

After previous spells in her native Poland with Chemik Police and Grot Budowlani Lodz, Stysiak moved to Scandicci, a team with high ambitions in the Champions League as well. “I broke my finger, so I did not play the matches with Maribor and VakifBank, but I have very good memories from those against Kaliningrad, especially the one in Russia, where I received the award for the MVP. The Champions League implies a lot of extra pressure, because you play the top teams in the world, but it is very good especially for a young player like me in order to develop mentally, other than just physically or technically. I could not wait for the quarterfinal matches with Eczacibasi until the virus unfortunately stopped everything.”

Together with Malwina Smarzek-Godek, Joanna Wolosz, Agnieszka Kakolewska and others, Magda has been responsible for the steady rise of the Polish national team. “We have a group of very good and strong players. We have been growing with each season and I believe that there is more to come and we can win something from the next major international competitions. We played an amazing match against Turkey in the semis of the Olympic qualifier in January, where we were 2-1 ahead before losing 2-3, but that is life and sport. I think we can pose a threat to the top teams in the world in the years to come,” she says with the right amount of confidence.

Finally, a few words to the fans who, like Magda herself, are stuck at home. “I know it is not easy, but we must stay at home and respect the guidelines, we have to be careful because our behaviour is important not just for ourselves, but for other people’s health too. Try to pass the time by doing some things you never had the time for – like working on your fitness, doing yoga, cooking, reading books, at least this is what I am doing waiting for better times to come soon, I hope,” Stysiak concludes.

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