After qualifying for a second consecutive edition of the Olympics, the South Americans want to reach a new level internationally
Buenos Aires, Argentina, April 20, 2020 – Hernan Ferraro knew 2019 would be a season of new experiences. An Argentinean setter that competed at the 2004 Athens Olympics, he took over as the head coach of the country’s women’s national team, nicknamed Las Panteras (The Panthers, in Spanish), with several challenges to take on.
After ending his playing career, Ferraro moved up quickly in the coaching ranks, securing head coach positions at club level with Ciudad Voley and international level with the Argentinean Under-23 national team. Between 2015 and 2018, he was an assistant coach to the country’s men’s national team, working under former manager Julio Velasco.
In 2019, his career moved up to the next level as he embraced the opportunity to coach the women's national team of Argentina.
“It was something new for them and for me,” Ferraro reflected during a live interview on the Argentinean Federation’s Instagram channel. “I knew I had to make some decisions when I arrived, but I also knew that I would find a group of players that would be willing to train hard and that would be hungry for improvement. And, most importantly, the team’s identity was already there. Argentina will always have its fighting spirit and aggressiveness no matter what.”
His first season at the helm was a challenging one, with Argentina playing in several major competitions. The team’s most important goal was accomplished last January, when Las Panteras won the South American Olympic Qualification tournament and secured their second-ever appearance at the Olympic Games, but the 2019 season also reserved good moments for Ferraro and his team.
The Argentineans won their first-ever medal at the Pan-American Games, a bronze in Lima, Peru. They finished third at the FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup and were tenth at the FIVB Volleyball World Cup, a tournament in which the team won just two of its nine matches, but took sets from eventual runners-up the United States and reigning world champions Serbia.
Now, with the first steps out of the way, Ferraro focuses on his next goals, which are ambitious ones.
“It’s not going to happen from one year to another, but I don’t think we’re too far off from the top eight teams in the world,” he said. “Our goal is to close that gap more and more. It’s a long road and it will require a lot of work from all of us, but this is a group of players that’s great in training and that wants and believes it can be done and that’s the best possible first step.”
Ferraro coaches during last year's World Cup in Japan
To accomplish that, Ferraro believes, the team needs to explore its strengths and improve its weaknesses. Argentina has not traditionally been among the tallest and most physically imposing teams at the international level, so the coach believes that excelling at technical and defensive skills is what will help put the team near the sport’s elite.
“I think we need to focus on the skills that set the elite teams apart from us right now, such as hitting, especially in regards of playing faster and putting our spikers in a better position to score points,” Ferraro elaborated. “Our receiving is at the same level with the top teams, so that’s not a problem for us, but I think our defence is an area in which we need to get better. If we had taller players we could play differently in blocking and spiking, but that’s not the case, so if we want to be competitive we absolutely need to be the best out there in defence and receiving.”