Montenegro’s Volleyball family is looking forward to the 2023 edition of #EuroVolleyU17M – which will be taking place in Podgorica from July 19 to 30. About a week before the start of the tournament, Ivan Bošković, Secretary General of the Volleyball Federation of Montenegro (OSCG), and Darko Prebiračević, the coach of the U17 men’s national team, spoke to media during a press conference held at the Voco hotel.
“After the excellent delivery of the U17 Women competition held here in 2020, the European Volleyball Confederation has entrusted our federation with the organisation of the continental championship for young male players under the age of 17. This represents a great honour and responsibility for us. It is another recognition of the Volleyball Federation of Montenegro by the CEV for our previous work, and we are very grateful to our overarching institution,” said Bošković.
The Volleyball Federation of Montenegro and the capital city of Podgorica will host the top 16 teams from Europe, consisting of players born in 2007 and younger.
“A total of 16 countries will participate in the championship, and in addition to the host country Montenegro, the audience and all volleyball enthusiasts in Podgorica and Montenegro will have the opportunity to watch the teams from Italy, France, Poland, the Netherlands, Serbia, and other volleyball powerhouses. By organising this European Championship, the Volleyball Federation of Montenegro has provided our youngest players with the opportunity to compete in a major event, to experience what it is like to represent our country on the European stage. We are confident that their participation in this championship will have a very positive impact on their further development, with the goal of underpinning the consistency of our senior national team, which will compete in the European Championship for the third consecutive time in late August. The U17 European Championship in Podgorica is the first in the new format – with 16 national teams divided into two groups, and the organisation itself is a great challenge,” added Bošković.
“This is the most demanding organisational endeavour for the Volleyball Federation of Montenegro so far. However, our experienced team is ready to meet this challenge, and I am confident that we will deliver an event of the highest level. In addition to wanting to see high-quality Volleyball during the championship, we also want our guests to have a pleasant experience in Podgorica. We want to be good hosts and provide them with the most beautiful memories to take back, memories that will make them always happy to return to our country,” he added.
Bošković took the opportunity to thank all the sponsors and partners of the OSCG who have contributed to the organisation of this important competition.
“In addition to CEV, we owe gratitude for their help to the Government of Montenegro, the Ministry of Sports, the Montenegrin National Olympic Committee, the Capital City of Podgorica, the National Tourism Organisation of Montenegro, the Tourist Board of Podgorica, and all our sponsors and partners. Over 300 participants will take part in the championship, and there will also be around 30 CEV officials (supervisors and referees), including Ana Ivanović, who will be a member of the championship jury, and Jelena Mitrović, who will officiate at the championship. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our volunteers, of whom there will be around thirty, and whose help will be of great significance,” concluded Bošković.
“In terms of results, we do not have a great imperative. We have focussed on continuous work so that these guys will become an important asset to the senior national team in the coming years, which is our most important goal,” emphasised coach Prebiračević.
“I would like to thank the Volleyball Federation of Montenegro for their previous actions and results, which have earned them the opportunity to organise such a competition. This involves the top 16 teams in Europe, and it will be extremely challenging.”
The national team has been diligently preparing for their debut at the European Championship since April. The dress rehearsal was the Balkan Championship in Tirana. “We had the opportunity to spend a lot of time together this year. We started in April when we had weekend gatherings because the club season was still ongoing. After that, we participated in the ‘May Tournament’, the so-called ‘Belgrade Trophy’, which was a very important experience for us because we played five matches. We recently returned from the Balkan Championship in Tirana. Unfortunately, we cannot be too satisfied with the results, but considering that the game has improved significantly, and that the team has progressed, we can be satisfied in that sense,” added the coach.
Montenegro opens the European Championship with a match against the defending champions, Slovenia, on July 19 at 8 pm at Verde Sports Complex. “The group is tough, considering that the best teams are here. We tried to create some periodisation, so that the peak of our game would be in matches against Greece, Estonia, and Belgium because, based on the information we have so far, those should be the matches where we could stand a fair chance. As for the other opponents, Slovenia is the reigning European champion, Türkiye and Bulgaria are very strong teams, and Austria is a selection that is progressing rapidly and has been achieving serious results,” said Prebiračević.
Prebiračević believes that every set can be worth its weight in gold for his young team.
“We have a lot of younger players in the lineup than what is optimal for this competition, our entire receiving diagonal is two years younger than the actual age limit. We even have a libero born in 2010, while the optimal year is 2007. We have a slight disadvantage from the start. I repeat, we need to use this as one cycle and have these guys enter the world of the national team in the right way, and then follow it up with good and continuous work. What is very important for us is that the competition is divided into two groups of eight teams, so there will be a lot of matches. And maybe that is the key thing for this young team because we will really play many matches. That is the most important part of our participation, and as for the results, we will see what we are capable of at this moment,” he concluded.