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21/03/2019 21:00
Getting to know – Portugal’s cover girl Marta Hurst
CEV EuroVolley 2019 Women

Porto, Portugal, March 21, 2019. It is a truly happy time for Portuguese women’s Volleyball. The senior national team have finally achieved what they have been longing for – the much-desired qualification for the EuroVolley - and now they must seize the opportunity and cement their status of rising force on the European stage.

Marta Hurst, who wears the shirt no. 10, is one of the current pillars of the team, with an impressive number of caps already. Known for her spirit, she is quite the image of a national team with a personality and identity that is increasingly sharp. Her international experience has helped the 183 cm tall player overcome obstacles that previously seemed insurmountable.

How did you feel when the team achieved the historic qualification for EuroVolley?

I think that by the time we won the game in Denmark [which guaranteed the qualification, regardless of the two games still to follow in January] it took us a while to understand the significance of what we had achieved. It was ‘just’ a game, where a win is always a good feeling but I think in the immediate aftermath, when the referee whistled the last point it still took some time to realise our feat. Then yes, I thought, ‘We are at the European Championship!”

What can this team achieve at EuroVolley?

We had a complicated draw. We start with Italy, a very strong team, both physically and technically/tactically. Poland is also a team with a regular presence at this level, such as Belgium. I think that Ukraine and Slovenia - because we played against both and know a little better their styles of play - are two teams with whom we can play at the same level, compared to the other teams in the pool.

Team Portugal pose after their historic qualification for CEV EuroVolley 2019 Women

What is the most important step in this European journey?

I think we have already taken the most important step. It was the bet made not only by the Federation but also by the athletes who have been with the team in recent years. Of course, it has taken a lot of work, a spirit of self-sacrifice and dedication. Moreover, I think that it will be important to have solidarity and patience, fellowship between the athletes and the staff. If we can maintain this during the summer, we will be able to play good games in the Silver European League, and be ready for EuroVolley.

What can your achievement mean for the future of women’s Volleyball? Do you feel that it has already had an impact on the public eye or, at least, on the Volleyball fans?

This achievement is a milestone in Portuguese women’s Volleyball: this is and will remain the first time we have qualified for the final phase of a European Championship. I think we are a group of athletes that, if provided with the right conditions to work consistently and with quality, can pave the way for Portugal to become a more consistent presence in international competitions. Women’s Volleyball goes much unnoticed among the public, despite being one of the sports with most female players in Portugal. There is little media interest in Volleyball itself.

A licensed player since 2003, Marta has played in her youth for Rosario Voleibol, CA Trofa and GDC Gueifães, a club whose senior team she remained with until 2013. Returning to Rosario Voleibol, she became national champion, retaining the title in the 2014/2015 season under the colours of Porto Vólei. SC Arcozelo was, in 2016, her last Portuguese club.
Already with a Master’s Degree in High Level Sports Training, she began her international career at CV Barcelona. She then joined Haro Rioja Volley and Haris Volleyball Club in Spain and is currently playing for Volley Hermaea Olbia in Italy.

Marta Hurst, known for her fighting spirit, currently plays in the second division of the Italian national league.

“The Italian championship was always a dream I wanted to achieve, and when this opportunity arose I was extremely happy and did not hesitate. My first impression was that the Italian A2 is very competitive and balanced. There are very tall players and all the attackers have a very aggressive style. In Spain, there is also a certain balance between teams, but I think that regarding the level of physical power Italy is superior. Moreover, in Italy, compared to Portugal or Spain, the Volleyball culture seems to me much stronger, both in terms of professionalism mirrored in sports conditions and in terms of the perception by the public opinion,” Hurst said.

“Spain and Portugal are quite similar in terms of their sports culture, with some variations in the level of economic investment. As I said before, Italy is a country with a lot of tradition in Volleyball, although football is undoubtedly the most popular sport, as much as it is in Portugal and Spain. In terms of society, I have never felt great difficulties: the three countries are all southern European countries and the way people relate is fairly similar,” she continued.

A multi-faceted player, National Beach Volleyball Champion in 2014, you are known for your spirit, but how do you see yourself as a player? Where are your strengths and weaknesses?

I see myself as an intense player, and the commitment and spirit are part of that intensity. I also try to apply that intensity in what I think is my greatest weapon: the attack. I have a good physical ability to apply force without being too tall or jumping immensely high and this gives me some advantage to explore the block and cause difficulties to the low defence of the opposing team. The technical gesture in which I probably have less effectiveness would be the block! I know I do not score many points through blocks, but I try to compensate with the defence and an aggressive service. I am extremely disciplined, which helps me in terms of training routines, whether working with the ball or physical work, food and recovery / rest. I really enjoy training because I know that each session is yet another opportunity to improve as a player!

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