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19/01/2019 13:40
Emile Rousseaux – France got the job done by qualifying for #EuroVolleyW
CEV EuroVolley 2019 Women

Paris, France, January 19, 2019. With six wins in as many matches and dropping only one set in Pool D, the French women’s national team qualified in emphatic style for CEV EuroVolley 2019 Women. On January 23, after the Drawing of Lots in Istanbul, ‘Les Bleues’ will know the names of the opponents they will be playing in the pool stage of the tournament co-hosted by Turkey, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.

“I think we did our job well with this qualification, because we played against lower-ranked teams, even though we had not beaten opponents such as Portugal recently,” says head coach Emile Rousseaux. “Therefore, we did our job but at the same time, we did more than just that, since we only lost a set and it is very positive. This is not a reason to celebrate too much. This campaign is only the first step in a long-term process of recovery; there are still many challenges and much work to do. Therefore, I have a critical and constructive look at these results and at what we need to improve.”

Rousseaux used many young players, especially in the last match with Denmark, whose result did not have an impact on the pool standing. “I heard a number of criticisms about the fact that I chose to play this last game with so many young players, but I also made a conscious choice, because apart from the short-term European qualification, which we reached back in August already, we need to prepare a group that has to be competitive in 2024,” Rousseaux continues. “Therefore, I want to give some of these young players, who have talent, time to accumulate high-level experience. To this extent, the match in Denmark was an extremely positive experience: there were 1,700 people in the stadium, a nice atmosphere, the team had difficulties to enter the game but finally took control in a very promising way.”

France secured their qualification for EuroVolley 2019 Women back in August already.

“We constantly ask our players to dare, and I think that coaches cannot hold such a speech and allow ourselves to be cautious in our choices. As a result, I made the choice to give experience to these young players. From this point of view, apart from qualifying, winning this last match with a young team against more experienced players is, I think, what has been more beautiful, even if Denmark are obviously not one of the best teams in the world. My players showed that even the second or third French team is fighting, and that is the state of mind that I want to put in place,” the Belgian-born coach adds. “Regarding the ‘first team’ that played against Portugal, I found that the girls were very happy to meet, there was really a good mood and the desire to train: they trained hard, without complaining, and I hardly needed to raise the voice. This makes me feel satisfied.”

Despite everything, Rousseaux does not yet have a well-defined core team. “I said clearly that for this Christmas period, I made a selection that was the right follow up on the games from last summer, but that for the future, I am going to start from scratch in order to assess and re-evaluate the skills of each player. I want to have a wide roster, obviously with players who participated in the qualifications, but also with some new ones. I also hope that we will have the possibility, starting in the spring, to train a large number of girls. These should include the core of the national team, that is to say the 16-18 girls of Team A, but I want to involve young people as well, since there are no club activities from May 1 to September 1. If we want to perform well in 2024, we cannot afford not to work with these girls during the summer. Today, we must really take into account these two goals, namely on the one hand to have the best current level possible according to the girls available, but also and above all to set up the bases of a long-term work towards Paris 2024,” Rousseaux says.