With the decision, everything stopped for Raidel Hierrezuelo. He became a slave to time, prey to an overwhelming sense of despair. His last two years in Cuba were distressing. Then he presented his resignation of the national volleyball team in 2012 and that changed his life. Since then nothing has been the same for him.
From being the setter, the brain behind a very talented generation of players who could comfortably have conquered all courts in the world, he went to be cramped in a little flirty house in one of the poorest areas in the neighborhood of Casino Deportivo, in Havana.
To break away from the national team he had to stop taming balls after the first touch to turn against the wall, the nothingness, for over two years. He was away from competitive activity, even if in that period poked an offer from outside snooping on his record, he would abort it, he could not access it because the Cuban Federation is empowered to prevent such agreements until after the ruling is fulfilled.
Two years is no small feat for a first class athlete; although his decision to go out of the Cuban team rested on the idea to make a qualitative, economic and sports leap, before that impasse to be submitted to a large boulder rose: fitness. A risk Hierrezuelo should assume and would have to supplement it with his own efforts. Raidel spent months doing push-ups, and occasional abdominal exercise that he could devise with the support of his own body and small spaces that he had at home.
And to make things even harder for him, in that span his first child was born, who he knows only see on photos because last March Hierrezuelo met the provisions, was already two years without going to a court and now has left as many others. Last October I asked him if he had offers from foreign clubs and with a subtle caution he said he didn’t lack them but was unwise to advance me anything, just in case.
A couple of days, on Facebook, he answered me. “I signed a two-year contract with Turkish Halkbank Ankara, now I am training to reach my former level. I’m focusing on doing a good preseason and this team is involved in three tournaments: the league, cup and Champions of Europe. ”
Hierrezuelo arrives on the team to replace veteran Brazilian Rafael Vieira who left the squad after the transfer market in Europe. Raidel has the privilege to set for who for many is in a little less than five years the best volleyball player in the world, the Cuban Osmany Juantorena, who arrived there last season. Juantorena is the hub of the formation of Halkbank with his faithful squire Bulgarian Kaziyski Matej, who together got tired of winning it all with Trentino in Italy and now have moved to Turkey greatly attracted by better pay.
With an eye to the start of the season in September, Raidel said “adaptation to the club was successful, the players themselves have opened doors for me without any problem and it has helped me to join the team without many drawbacks. What has cost me most was the time and climate change; there are seven hours of difference from Cuba and very cold nights. ”
Do you have competition in your position to be a starter?
Right now my mind is not focused on being a starter or alternate. All I’m doing is working hard to cover for all the downtime I had in Cuba. Also, frankly, when one of these teams is to hire you, you will start the main line-up, believe me.
Over here, there is much ado about nothing; they keep talking but nothing specifically about you volleyball players who are outside the country. Do you know of any good news?
The Cuban Federation is still basking in the matter, say they will give the possibility that Cubans get contracts abroad, which would be very good for raising the ceiling of the Cuban volleyball, but with respect to the players who are playing outside Cuba it has not yet made a decision.
I guess you talk to several of the Cuban volleyball players that are playing outside of Cuba. What do you think about the current situation of the Cuban volleyball?
We really do not talk much, we hardly see each other and everyone focuses on its own, only those who are geographically close communicate more often. Volleyball I can tell you that if a decision is not taken soon, this will go back, if they don’t change their mind, we are going to sink. Right now there are too many teams above our level, teams that never ever dreamt of being above Cuba.
Have is it gone through your mind to become a citizen of another country?
I cannot give many details, but I don’t keep the door closed at all, in the future it could be. All I want in life is to play volleyball and if they not let me play with my country, why not do it with another.
If they call you to the national team of Cuba, will you do it?
That’s what I wonder every day why after all this time have not decided to call once and for all the players in one way or another have left the team. On the contrary, what we have done is give joy to the people, and now that we are far, we miss them. But after so many things that have happened, if that call came into existence, I would have to think several times, before should change have to happen.
Said by the best coaches in the world, the only country that could defeat Russia is Cuba, but to do so we need to unite. Undoubtedly, if all players that are out unite, Cuba could win the Olympics without breaking a sweat.