Sammelvuo: We're building a culture. It's so much more than just volleyball


Stylin' and profilin': Jan Helenius with the victory selfie.

Osaka, Japan, June 19, 2016 - After both Cuba and Finland difficult five-set matches on Saturday, the teams faced one other here in Osaka on Sunday and put forth a great match. Cuba struggled in the opening set, but recovered quickly enough, yet Finland still prevailed in a close four-setter, 3-1 (25-18, 15-25, 25-23, 25-23).

Tuomas Sammelvuo, coach of Finland: "Well, I’m so proud of these players. They fight always until the end against this very physical opponent. We had to use our brains. They play smart in attack, as the captain said those moments in the third and fourth set, those are really great moments. We always have the strength to go on. We served really well, put Cuba in trouble A really good start for the game."

On how he has improved Finland’s ranking since becoming coach: "I think the strength of a team is always the players – we are never the tallest, never the most physical, so we always have to find a team concept. As a coach I started from nothing, and of course our federation has been a big help, giving us the freedom to do what we want. But the secret of the game is always the players. They are the strength and the coach's job is to make them the best they can be. The daily culture is the main thing. How do we practice, what kind of mentality do we have – games are always a certain result, but we try to build a culture day by day. But we go on our way every day, that for me as a coach is the most important thing."

On Finland’s development program: "We have our youth center, and they practice together every day, and we have our junior national teams there. And we try to get the best players to practice there. I am in contact all the time with the center. The clubs in Finland are very important, we are not such a big country, but we hope the clubs have the same ideas about development, more or less. There is still much work to do, but the big thing is to work together."

On playing with joy: "What we are trying to do is be the best we can be and having fun is a very important thing. If you love what you do you can improve every day. How we behave, and I’m trying to learn myself every day. It’s so much more than just volleyball. You have to find the resources in players, find the fun in doing what we do. I believe so deeply that if our players can find their inner resources and understand where they can go and what they can do, we will be successful."

Rodolfo Sanchez, coach of Cuba: "Our offense wasn’t good today, and we couldn’t hit many good spikes. In the third set we managed to get things going, but unfortunately we miss that opportunity. For us, this loss against Finland is very, very painful. The one thing that we can do for now is try to improve moving forward."

Eemi Tervaportti, captain of Finland: "Of course I’m really happy about the three points. We were behind twice, and twice we came back to win, in the third set we had some massive serves. I think our 14 players are a really good team. Our substitutions really helped us on and off the court. So I’m really happy."

Rolando Cepeda Abreu, captain of Cuba: "We’d like to congratulate Finland on their win. In this match we couldn’t get our style of play going. Finland’s serving was really strong and we couldn’t adjust to that."


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