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25/04/2019 22:00
Arjan Festøy recounts Japan experience, desire to grow Volleyball in Norway
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Trondheim, Norway, April 25, 2019. Arjan Festøy is a 24-year-old student and Volleyball player from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. Festøy recently paid a visit to Japan to learn from their Volleyball culture, travelling home with many lessons learned and an enormous boost of motivation to work hard in order to help grow the game in the Scandinavian country. 

Volleyball in Norway


“I have been playing in the top division and second highest division in Norway for the past four years. NTNUI is Norway’s biggest sports club with more than 12,000 members; most are students participating in any sport you can imagine, such as football, rugby, volleyball, swimming, climbing and even quidditch (for those who are Harry Potter fans),” Arjan recalls. “NTNUI Volleyball is the largest Volleyball club in Norway with almost 300 active players across 18 different teams represented in all the leagues in Norway - for both genders. Our club has competed in Norway’s top division, Mizunoligaen, where almost all of our players are students from the university. Volunteers playing on the different teams run the club’s activities. These people include coaches, board members etc. I have been active in the club as a player, coach and board member and share a deep passion for the sport we all love.”

“In Norway, Volleyball players are not full professionals. Actually, almost all of the players in the Norwegian top division are amateurs, who are either working or studying. This reflects in the general culture, where usually the elite teams have a small coaching staff, which consists of volunteers with no salary,” Arjan continues. “In general this is true for most of the teams, but in the last years we have had some teams that have been pushing the limits, such as Viking TIF BERGEN or FØRDE VBK, who have participated in the European Cups.”


Arjan together with a member of the coaching staff of the Toyota Auto Body Queenseis

ToppVolley Norge


When Arjan was younger, he attended ToppVolley Norge a Norwegian high school located in Sand in the western section of the country. This is a school where aspiring young players aged 16-18 attend classes, while nurturing their Volleyball and Beach Volleyball skills as well. It is a very special school in Norway, renowned for growing many great talents - such as Jonas Kvalen [who is playing as a professional in Switzerland and was MVP of the championship match this year], Andreas Takvam [playing professionally in Germany for VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN] and Christian Sandlie Sørum and Anders Berntsen Mol, currently the world’s no. 1 Beach Volleyball team.

Japanese-born Haruya Indo was one of the coaches in charge for around 10 years before he left for professional coaching in Japan in 2014. “He is one of the main reasons why Norway has fostered so many great talents over the last decade,” Arjan Festøy recounts. “For me he was a great source of inspiration, and imported a culture which consisted of hard work, consistency and a never-quit attitude – which is very uncommon for Norwegians. I am extremely happy that I had the chance to have Indo as my coach those years.”

“In my study programme, the master students have an excursion to Japan each year to visit companies and universities for one week, before they travel around Japan for one or two more weeks,” he continues. “This was a golden chance for me to meet my former coach again after many years, and we got in touch. The team manager of the team he is working with picked me up at the train station before I could join and observe one practice with the professional women’s team Toyota Auto Body Queenseis,” Arjan says. This team, whose roster includes Turkish star Neriman Özsoy Gencyürek, finished fourth in the last edition of the elite V.League.


Arjan Festøy portrayed during his stay in Japan.

An inspiring trip, a boost to help grow Volleyball in Norway

“When I entered the hall, I was met with an incredibly professional coaching staff of 7-8 people observing, shagging balls, giving advice and keeping order. The players were all incredibly fit, and executing the drills with a passion and hard-working attitude that I had never seen before. From a player coming from an amateur club like me, this was extremely fascinating to observe and it puts things into perspective. There is a reason why Japan has one of the world’s best Volleyball teams for women, and Norway currently does not for either gender. Of course, this is something that we in Norway would like to change, but adapting other countries’ cultures into our own system and training hard is a good start. I talked to several of the coaching staff and players, and the level of dedication still impresses me greatly. Everything was so thorough, from the outline of the practices, the focus on small technical details, proper nutrition after practice, several fitness coaches in the gym, etc.,” he adds.

“I was able to hang out and talk with my former coach after the practice, and it was good to see him again and talk about Norway, Japan, the past and the future. He brought me sightseeing some wonderful places in Nagoya. The two weeks in Japan have been fantastic, and I was able to experience so many great things – from the massive metropolis of Tokyo with all its day and night activities to the charming reaches around Mount Fuji. The people in Japan have been so welcoming and nice in every single aspect and I cannot wait to travel back to this fantastic country.”

Arjan is confident that the future for Norwegian Volleyball looks bright. “Currently, Norway is on its way fostering many incredible great talents as mentioned above, and the current national women’s team consists of so many young talented players that were able to show themselves in the last EuroVolley qualifiers. I have learned a lot visiting Indo and Queenseis, and this journey has given me new inspiration to practice myself and share my knowledge as a coach in the future.”


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