The topic of managing diversity came up in some of the Volleyball Coaching Wizards interviews. There are really two types of situations where this arises. One is the case where the coach is of a different nationality or cultural background from the players. An example of this is a national team where the head coach is not from that country. The other case is a team made up of players from multiple cultures. You see this a lot at the professional level where teams and staffs comprise players from potentially many countries.

Both Paulo Cunha (Portugal) and Vital Heynen (Belgium/Germany) talked on this subject in their interviews. In particular, Vital shared one way he seeks to avoid cliques developing, which this clip speaks to.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

At Exeter I didn’t have to deal with the language thing all that much. The players I coached generally spoke pretty good English. No surprise given we were in an English-speaking country. Also, the players were from so many different countries (like 25) that there wasn’t a lot of overlap. Often, developing their language skills was part of the motivation for the foreign players being in England. In my last season, though, there was a Spanish speaking group who tended to use that for conversations between themselves (in general terms, the Spanish players I coached were the ones who most struggled with English). Sometimes the Chinese players also used that language speaking together.

Also, when I was with German professional team SC Potsdam in 2014 there were clear German and Italian language cliques (the coaching staff was Italian and spoke that between themselves). At TV Bühl, the other German team I visited with that year, the coaching staff spoke Spanish among themselves, but English was the clear team language.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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