|Dr. Ary Graça - President, FIVB|
|Profile of the week|
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 10:08
Dr. Ary Graça was elected as the fourth International Federation of Volleyball (FIVB) President in 2012.
Dr. Graça was previously the president of the Brazil Volleyball Federation (1997- 2012) and the South America Confederation (2003 - 2012) and a member of the FIVB Board of Administration.
Before his administration career, denture Dr. Graca was a professional volleball player from 1963-1968.
By Ismail Uddin
You were previously the President of the Brazil Volleyball Federation and the South American Confederation (CSV). What have you learnt from these roles that have helped with your current position?
With more than 15 years at the head of the Confederação Brasileira de Voleibol (CBV, 1997-2012) and almost 10 years as CSV President (2003-2012), I have acquired the necessary experience to understand sports administration and the global sports industry as a whole.
My previous roles gave me the tools to lead the FIVB with a completely new mentality and vision for the sport which is absolutely necessary to survive nowadays with new sports occupying a lot of space and more sports being brought into the arena by the younger generation.
With my extensive experience at the heart of the global sports community, I have had the opportunity to witness both great successes and failures but I have mainly learnt how to meet with volleyball’s diverse audience and enhance the sport’s presentation from a commercial perspective for all volleyball stakeholders. It is important for sport federations to be able to reinvent themselves all the time; we continue to adapt the rules and format of volleyball matches to maintain interest from both fans and partners.
Thanks to my background at the CSV and CBV I am leading an era of change for the FIVB and this season in particular has pushed volleyball into a new level of sports entertainment and innovation which has never been reached before. The great success of the Men’s World Championship Opening Ceremony in Warsaw was a demonstration of our new vision and will be the benchmark for future volleyball events.
You became the President of the International Volleyball Federation in 2012. What challenges have you faced since your appointment? How have you overcome them?
I was lucky to inherit a very healthy Federation after the huge success of volleyball at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Volleyball was hosted in some truly iconic venues during London 2012 and was one of the most popular sports during the Games.
Despite volleyball’s global popularity, I am a true believer that we must never rest on our laurels. Although many institutions are reluctant to make changes, I have worked hard to keep the FIVB constantly moving and evolving and keep in mind that every day is a new challenge.
Since my election in 2012, I have been striving to ensure that we are constantly improving what we have to offer and reaching out to new markets such as Africa and South America. Those markets are a top priority for me because beach volleyball does not require expensive state-of-the-art facilities. This is one of the elements of volleyball which makes it a sport accessible for all.
We need to exceed volleyball fans’ expectations and engage with new audiences all the time. Development is my motto. We need to embrace the latest sport innovations to show the world that we will not rest until we reach the best for our sport.
Since 2013, the FIVB has been investing heavily into new technology. We want volleyball matches to be truly entertaining - not only for the fans in the stadium but also to the world watching the matches from home. To help ensure that we move in the right direction, we have adapted the TV format and reduced the number of commercial breaks to avoid long periods of inaction.
I am a strong advocate that we must always reinvent ourselves by offering bigger and better event concepts to bring a truly entertaining show to the public.
These are the main challenges I have been facing for the past two years.
Your term ends in 2016. Will you look for re-election in 2016?
Yes, I will definitely stand for re-election at the FIVB Congress in 2016 simply because four years is not enough time to implement my new vision and reach the objectives that I have set for the Federation. Therefore I think that four more years will be needed to complete my mission.
I will make sure that all of my remaining ideas are made very clear during the election process so that voters can select the Federation’s President with total clarity. I hope that I will continue to have support from my colleagues.
What is the current popularity of the sport?
Volleyball and beach volleyball are two very popular disciplines at the moment. The FIVB is the second biggest International Federation in terms of Member Federations – 220 in total - and presides over five continental confederations: AVC (Asia), CAVB (Africa), CEV (Europe), CSV (South America) and NORCECA (North and Central America).
Volleyball is played in most countries in the world but is particularly popular in Poland, Italy, Russia, Brazil, Serbia and Japan. USA is our next major target.
Beach volleyball still has a vast amount of untapped potential due to the minimal facilities and equipment required to play. We are looking to extend our boundaries and reach smaller countries in South America and Africa in particular in the coming years.
In terms of digital popularity, volleyball is doing very well too. In 2014, the FIVB digital strategy reached a milestone with more than 200,000 fans on Facebook and we have many active Twitter accounts for each of our competitions which are our first point of contact with volleyball fans.
The two disciplines will be core sports at Rio 2016 and we are very much looking forward to showcasing our sport to the world in two years’ time.
How will you look to increase participation numbers?
We’re constantly looking to increase participation numbers by developing in new markets with great potential such as South America, Asia and Africa. The appetite for beach volleyball in these countries is enormous because it does not require complicated and expensive facilities - a net and a ball is enough to play.
Those unreached markets are a top priority for me and we have already put in place a series of key programmes such as the Africa Dream project to help us drive this objective.
Our new digital strategy is also helping us reach this objective by engaging the younger generation and new audiences around the world. Our social media platforms provide us with a privileged way to engage with people – particularly the younger generation. We are now closer than ever to volleyball and beach volleyball fans and we communicate with them every single day.