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13/01/2019 10:00
EuroVolley qualifiers - A dream come true for Macedonian Volleyball family!
CEV EuroVolley 2019 Men

Skopje, F.Y.R. of Macedonia, January 13, 2019. When Macedonian Volleyball players played their first EuroVolley qualifying match with Denmark back on March 14, 1995, that generation started dreaming about a maiden appearance at the European Championship. After almost 24 years, that dream came true as the Balkan country will participate in the historic event co-hosted later this year by France, Slovenia, Belgium and the Netherlands. The expression of disbelief on the faces of everybody in Kale Hall on the evening of January 9, even after the hosts defeated Hungary in Skopje, showed the desire, the dream, the hope shared by everyone who in any way is or has been involved in Macedonian Volleyball.

“This is the happiest day of my life together with the day I became a father. You cannot compare this feeling with any trophy, even with the MVP award. This is the happiest day for all of us,” said the captain of the Macedonian national team Nikola Gjorgiev, as the emotions were still flowing. Even in the smallest drop of his tears, everybody could have seen all of the efforts made for this dream to come true. The ‘Red-and-Yellows’ played 89 qualifying matches, and the 29th victory meant they are now among the continental elite. Many players, coaches, journalists and fans participated in the tracing of this road, but only one coach had the privilege of taking the Macedonian team to the European Championship.

“As a player, I won a bronze medal with the former Yugoslav team at the European Championship in 1975. In my coaching career, my ambition was to return to the European stage. I will not say I succeeded, because we all did,” the coach of the Macedonian national team Nikola Matijasevic said while creating a bridge between two events that are 44 years apart. During that period, the Macedonian Volleyball players from the generation of OK Vardar from Skopje achieved the greatest success at the club level in the seventies, and the ticket to EuroVolley 2019 is undoubtedly the biggest success since the independence of the state nestled in the heart of the Balkans.

Scenes of joy and disbelief on Wednesday night in Skopje at the end of the match with Hungary.

“To try to improve Volleyball here, even to maintain the level, it is really hard work. But we have believed all along and this success is a reward for all of us,” said the President of the Volleyball Federation of the Former Y.R. of Macedonia Petar Jovanovski. “We are an atypical Volleyball family in many ways. The Federation has only one employee, and the budget is extremely low. In such a situation, a huge effort is required to provide the players with all necessary working conditions. Fortunately, our enthusiasm never left us, and that is our greatest asset. We did not give up, and we never had any doubts about to giving up,” Secretary General Zoran Karanovic added.  

The leader of the Macedonian national team, Nikola Gjorgiev, who was the best scorer in the EuroVolley qualifiers across all pools, shares the same view: “The defeat from Croatia in the semi-finals of the 2018 CEV Silver European League at the final tournament on home ground in Skopje killed me psychologically. After that, I did not really care about Volleyball. However, this is history now. We were so close on several occasions and always something was missing. I am proud of all players and all people involved in Volleyball,” said captain Gjorgiev.

Superstar Nikola Gjorgiev scored as many as 219 points in the qualifiers for EuroVolley 2019.

Following his development, the Federation decided that the men’s national team would play in all possible competitions in the past few years, primarily in the CEV European League and qualifiers for the European Championships, but also in the Mediterranean Games. Thus, setters Gjorgi Gjorgiev and Filip Despotovski, outside spikers Vlado Milev and Aleksandar Ljaftov, libero Darko Angelovski, middle blockers Filip Madjunkov and Ivan Andonov and some other players gained the necessary experience.

“Since May 2013, the Macedonian Radio Television as a partner of the Volleyball Federation of Macedonia has broadcasted 113 Volleyball matches. It is really a great number for a small country like ours and a great promotion for Volleyball,” said MRT Volleyball commentator Toni Stojanovski, sincerely hoping that Macedonian spectators will be able to watch matches of EuroVolley 2019 in their native language.

One big goal is achieved, but the work is not over yet for all parties involved. Therefore, the dream goes on!

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