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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Fernando Morales will lead the Korean women’s national volleyball team



Fernando Morales had led the senior women’s national volleyball team since October 2020, and had been the head coach of the women’s volleyball team at the University of Evansville in Indiana since 2019. (Photo courtesy of FIVB)

By The Star Staff


Now-former Puerto Rico National Team coach Fernando Morales became the new coach of the Korea senior women’s national team earlier this week.


In the coming weeks, Morales will head to Korea to begin a new chapter in his career as a volleyball coach. Starting April 15, he will lead the Korean squad that he has coached against, and he will do so with his assistant, Jesús Echevarría.


“When I received the offer, many things went through my mind, such as leaving the Puerto Rico National Team, where I have been for so long as a player and as a coach; but obviously it was a great opportunity as a coach that will open many doors for me in my career,” said Morales, 42, in a written statement.


“I consulted with people I trust, with former players and with other coaches, and 99 percent told me that it was a great step for my career and you should do it,” he added.


Morales had been the leader of the senior women’s national team since October 2020, and head coach of the women’s volleyball team at the University of Evansville in Indiana since 2019.


“The decision was difficult for me for two reasons: one, and the most difficult, was to leave Puerto Rico; and two, one is stable here in the United States and everything is going well at the university,” Morales said. “But when I started coaching I always wanted to do it in other leagues and other teams, and I couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by.”


Korea is 40th in the women’s volleyball world rankings, while Puerto Rico is 16th.


“Korea has not won in the VNL [FIVB Women’s Nations League] for two years, they did not win a match in the Pre-Olympic [tournament], and they did not qualify for the Olympics because they dropped a lot in the ranking and that is why they decided to make the change [in the coaching staff],” Morales said. “Practices start on April 15, but they want me there before that to watch the league games. The only thing there this year is the VNL, and then we will have a camp to continue training the team.”


Morales said he will have translators to communicate with his players.


“I don’t know the English level of the players, but it will be one of the many new things I will encounter when I arrive in Korea,” he said.


“[Puerto Rican Volleyball Federation President César] Trabanco supported me 100 percent,” Morales stressed. “I am very grateful to Trabanco, first, because if it were not for him giving me the confidence to lead the Puerto Rico National Team, this opportunity would not be presented to me; and second, he made the decision easier for me by having his support.”


“I thought about it about 10 times before calling him [Trabanco], because one gets scared because one doesn’t know how he will react, but since I mentioned it to him he has supported me,” said the former setter of the men’s national team. “And thanks to those [years] I did with the National Team, I am given this opportunity because in the interview they mentioned it to me, that they were very impressed with the results we obtained in the Pre-Olympic and that is why they offered me the position.”


The federation president said “Opportunities like this appear only once in a lifetime, and I applaud and fully support Fernando in his decision.”


“I don’t cut off anyone’s future,” Trabanco added. “In 35 years of training doctors, I have always been in favor of human growth. I wish you the best of success in this new opportunity, and to Jesús [Echevarría] too.”


Among Morales’ top achievements at the helm of the senior women’s team, he highlighted “the silver medal in the NORCECA Championship in 2021, which was my first tournament; silver in the Central American and Caribbean Games (San Salvador 2023) and silver in the Pan American Cup (Ponce 2023).”


“Passing the second round at the 2022 World Championships [in the Netherlands and Poland] was another great achievement, and the victories in last year’s Olympic Qualifiers where we beat Belgium for the first time in history. We also beat Bulgaria and Argentina,” Morales said. “These were the best tournaments we have had in history.”


Trabanco noted that “[o]n Friday we will announce the new coaching staff for the Women’s National Team, which has tiny, but real, options to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics.”

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