The Blessing and The Curse of Being Italy's Head Coach

The Blessing and The Curse of Being Italy's Head Coach

Coach Davide Mazzanti and the Italy women’s volleyball team have parted ways. He bids farewell to the team that he led to a runner-up finish in the 2018 FIVB Women’s World Championship. Four years later, they won the bronze in the same tournament.

The Italians also won the 2022 Volleyball Nations League under Mazzanti’s guidance. While not much is known about the reason for his departure, he helped the likes of Paola Egonu, Miriam Sylla, Anna Danesi, Ofelia Malinov, and Monica De Gennaro become superstars.

Pros and cons of being Italy’s next head coach

 The opportunity to coach a talented roster makes this job opening a highly coveted role. It’s a blessing that volleyball coaches would die for, mainly because the team is ranked fifth in the world and third in Europe.

Having players who can execute the game plan also translates to deep tournament runs every time. But in some ways, that situation can also backfire, especially when the team underperforms.

As one of the best squads in the world, Italy’s next coach must be at the top of their game, regardless of the league they’re joining. The pressure of coming up short in the last two Women’s World Championships is also. The team’s supporters expect Mazzanti’s successor to do better by hopefully winning their second world title.

Being the Italian women’s volleyball team’s mentor also limits the individual's earning capacity. The Federazione Italiana Pallavolo wants the coach to devote his time year-round to the squad. Therefore, he cannot accept any other jobs, limiting that person’s earning capacity. Other federations do not have a problem with their coaches guiding other commercial clubs.

That conundrum could make it challenging for any qualified coach to say yes and take over. But despite that limitation, strong candidates are emerging.

Who could replace Davide Mazzanti as Italy’s head coach?

Three names are being floated to take over the program. There’s Julio Velasco, an Argentinian volleyball coach who acquired Italian citizenship in 1992. He has coached the squad from 1996 and 1997. Velasco also spearheaded the national teams of Spain, Iran, and Argentina.

He returned to coaching with UYBA Volley after a four-year layoff. However, he might say goodbye to that role and focus on the Italian team because he’s the Italian Volleyball Federation’s sports director.

There’s also Giovanni Guidetti, who has been coaching national teams since 2006. He guided Germany’s national team from 2006 to 2015 before transferring to the Netherlands. But if they want him, they must pay a king’s ransom to pry him from the two-time defending world champion Serbia.

Finally, Daniele Santarelli could do it for the love of the country. But is he willing to leave Turkey, the world's top-ranked women’s volleyball squad? He’s already in a fantastic spot after guiding the Turks to win this year’s European Championship, FIVB World Cup, and the Volleyball Nations League.

Whoever’s chosen will be thrust into a challenging yet rewarding position, especially when they climb the world rankings. Therefore, let the search begin.