Coach Firas Kassar, from Syria, is an international coach who previously managed clubs from Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. We had a brief interview discussing his preparations of his current club, Halat, and it went as follows:
Q: When did the team start preparations, and how many training sessions per week is the team performing?
A: Our Lebanese players started with fitness training on the 13th of October, and in mid November the foreigners joined us. We have our personal trainer in the gym, and I am taking care of all the preparations inside the court. Additionally, the administration and our fans are always present during our practices. We have around 15 administrators present during each training session.
Q: What are the team’s goals this year in the championship?
A: We will take this step by step. We aim to reach the Final 8, then the Final 6, and we hope to get into the Final 4 stage, and then continue towards the Final if possible. I think we can are capable of reaching the Final 4 stage with the current player selections in all teams. Furthermore, we have confidence in our foreign players, and if they show a good level we intend to stay with the same selection all season.
Q: Which team do you consider to be your hardest opponent?
A: Having three foreign players makes all teams strong. All teams are hard and easy at the same time, and we might win or lose against any of them based on our players’ performance. Zahra , Bouchrieh, and Anwar might cause the biggest threats, but all teams are competitive.
Q: What are the advantages that your team has over its rivals?
A: Our Lebanese players are national team players. The administration is doing everything possible for the team to reach advanced stages in the championship, and this is comforting for us. When the team is morally and financially stable, both the Lebanese and foreign players are more comfortable to play, and they would show a refreshing spirit. We know that any financial instability would directly affect performance. Moreover, our fans are a big advantage to us, they are loyal to the club, and are always present to support us in games.
Q: What are the latest results that your team has achieved from friendly games?
A: Our game results were:
Speedball Chikka 1-2 Halat
Kalamoun 1-2 Halat
Hboub 1-2 Halat
Zahra 3-0 Halat
Bouchrieh 3-2 Halat
Sacre Coeur 0-3 Halat
Q: About the incident that happened in Sami Abou Jaoude’s memorial tournament, what would you like to say to the Lebanese volleyball fans, and to Halat’s fans?
A: The Lebanese fans have a lot of affection towards the game. Of course, when the fans go inside the court it is not the right thing to do under any circumstance. Fans in Lebanon know the game very well, and they have a high level of understanding in volleyball, and they know the difference between right and wrong. I would wish from the Lebanese volleyball federation to have a solution for situations when a team disagrees with the referee’s decision, especially when we don’t have video check like some countries do. A solution could be to have a committee during the games which can help the referee or override his decision. Another temporary solution would be to allow the referee and team to check the ball on replay when a game is on television, and take the final decision based on that. This would not require more than a minute. We are not asking to change the rules of the game, but in fact just enhance or find a solution for such situations. The federation as a whole, and Mr. Jean Hammam personally, are working on enhancing the game in every aspect and they are doing a great job. We can say that the Lebanese volleyball championship is one of the best, if not the best in the region. Hanna El Zailah is a great referee, but as humans we are all bound to make mistakes. We just request from the federation to find a solution to avoid these mistakes. The team’s administration had a meeting, and they were sad of what happened during the game. And, as I recall, we had a meeting at the beginning of the seasons where our club president Mr. Tony Charbel, Mr. Cesar Bassil, and Mr. Adib El Aam stated: “What we care about most in the team is good manners, and respect”.
Q: What are your expectations for your first game this season which will be against Blat?
A: Certainly, for this game, and every game, we are going with the mentality to win. The teams who did not participate in Sami Abou Jaoude’s memorial tournament have not yet revealed their levels, and some of the teams who participated have changed their foreign players. This tournament has helped us, and every participating team to get ready, and fix weak points, especially since all the games had statistics. As for this game, I cannot predict the its result because we do not fully know the team we are playing against. But we will play every game having in mind that every point, and every set matters in the final standings.
Halat vs Blat
Date: Wednesday, 13 January 2016
Halat‘s history since 2009:
Photographs taken from: Sports Mania