For some reason last season, I started playing old volleyball videos before our scouting meetings as the players were coming in. There are lots and lots of classic (and non classic) games being uploaded to YouTube, with more games going up almost daily (and often being highlighted on volleyball-movies.net). The old matches are fascinating as you can often see elements of the game that have evolved through rule changes or innovation and in some cases you can see a coach going back in time to win. A week or so ago, a match from the 1992 Olympics came up on the ‘rotation’ featuring Brazil and USA. Watching Brazil play had me with one foot in the past and one in the present. The style of play they had seemingly perfected (under now women’s coach Jose Guimares) was almost identical (allowing for a few rule changes) to the way they have played for the last ten years under Bernardinho. It was effectively a preview of what would happen ten years later.
I remember the time quite clearly. Beginning with that Olympic title, the Brazilian team, led by Mauricio, Carlao and Tande, dominated the world for the next twelve months winning the 1993 World League title. By a quirk of fate, 1993 was the one year that World League was shown regularly on Australian TV so we were watching a lot of the matches. I remembered being astonished by their level of play and people assuming that, due to the relative youth of the team, they would continue to dominate world volleyball for the foreseeable future. Australian coaches who saw them play a tournament that year came back raving. I remember a specific comment that on TV or video you don’t get a true impression of how fast they really play.
History shows that Italy were far from finished, the Netherlands turned their surprise silver in 1992 into a period where they joined, and sometimes overtook, Italy at the top and Brazilian volleyball for some reason didn’t kick on. It took nearly ten years of subsequent disappointment and underachievement (if you’ve won a gold medal everything else is underachievement) and the appointment of Bernardinho as coach for the Brazilians to ‘return to the past’ and take the baton of that 1992 team.
Incredibly this 1992 team played volleyball in a way that even today most teams with all their improved resources and methods still can’t, or don’t try, to replicate. It is a lot of fun to watch.
Unless you’re a Dutch fan. But they got their revenge.