Interview with volleyball legend and ACPV General Manager, Ivan Miljkovic

Hi Ivan, thanks for being part of the Be Volleyball Community!

Everyone has a story, how your story started with volleyball?
I have started in my elementary school as a part of the extra school activities. Since that time I was not so physically strong, I found volleyball very interesting and continue to come to the gatherings. After a while I joined the local club and that is how I started. I have to say also that in that period of a few years, in 2 occasions I was attracted by something else for a short periods of time, but at the end I was always coming back to volleyball.

You played in the strongest teams and leagues in the world for more than 20 years, could you tell us what is peculiar for each of those leagues?
I played totally 22 seasons in different countries: Serbia, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Qatar. Each League left some marks on my career and my personal life. I had learned first volleyball steps in Serbia, created career in Italy, enjoyed playing in Greece and Qatar and matured in Turkey. I was always searching for a different challenges since I my whole career, I was in a position to do it.

In all this time you played many games and winning titles and medals if you can choose what one moment you will always remember?
I think in each country where I played I left a mark, especially creating a good relation with the clubmates, people from the club, management, fans and community. Beside that, in each country where I played, my team has managed to win at least one championship title and Cup. That is how I really enjoyed playing. And I think talking about great cities such as Rome, Athens, Istanbul, Doha and Ankara would be awaste of time.

You were part of one of the legendary national teams in volleyball history withother fantastic players as Geric, Vujevic, Grbic brothers, etc. In your opinion what was the key of success to reach the golden Olympic medal?
I had a possibility to join the best Yugoslav/Serbian volleyball generation of all times. I arrived last, taking place of Vladimir Batez, legendary opposite player in that moment. That group had finally managed to overcome the famous Italian team with Gravina, Bracci, Tofoli, Sartoretti, Mastrangelo and in that period to be one of the best volleyball teams and groups. Beside the Sydney 2000 and Eurovolley Ostrava 2001 gold medals, there were a lot of other occasions where we missed the opportunity to win the gold medal, especially in the FIVB World League and World Championships. But we never gave up.

Now you are continuing helping and developing volleyball from management positions as General Secretary of the ACPV, could you tell us more about it?
The ACPV is an independent international association of professional volleyball clubs. Since professional volleyball is generally based in Europe, most of our members are coming from European volleyball leagues. Professional volleyball clubs, as a real producers of volleyball players, have less and less interest in doing that. Increase of costs, fees and expenses and shorter national season calendar are some of the issues professional volleyball clubs question. On the other side, stronger clubs mean more stronger leagues and, following, stronger national teams creating a good environment for national federations, fans, sponsors, partners, investors etc. In the volleyball chain, it seems the professional volleyball clubs, with a lot of obligations and small rights, have lost its place.

What is the mission and objectives of ACPV? And what are the main challenges you are facing to achieve them?
The mission of the ACPV is the change of the current regulations and to involve the clubs as volleyball stakeholders in a decision making process in order to present volleyball as a professional sport and increase its value. We really hope the current volleyball governing structures, especially the CEV will recognize the unbelievable potential of the clubs, and not only, and involve them more in creation and management of international volleyball competitions.

The main issues for the ACPV are the official status of the volleyball players, coaches, clubs, insurance of the players’ contracts while playing for the national team, calendar of the national championships and finally the organization and management of the international competitions in order to create a balanced development between the volleyball clubs in different countries and making the national leagues stronger. All these issues would have to be in favor of development of volleyball and club volleyball whilst respecting the recommendations of the UN, IOC and the law of European Union of Free Movement of Workers and Competition Law.

The ACPV is just following examples of football, basketball and handball and we hope to achieve some important things in the very near future. Also, in order to have this idea supported by the clubs, I invite the volleyball clubs to contact ACPV and support this project. More clubs are there in the association, more recognizable this idea will be and more faster some things can be achieved.

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