Iran coach Rezaei puts emphasis on team play over individual performance

Hadi Rezaei has won a total of six gold medals and two silver medals at the Paralympic Games, including the five consecutive medals from Sydney 2000 to Rio 2016 as Iran’s head coach, and the three consecutive gold medals for himself as athlete and captain at Atlanta 1996, Barcelona 1992 and Seoul 1988.

Rezaei knows the formula to winning another Paralympic title at Tokyo 2020, but the Iranian mentor shared that success is not just based on an individual’s performance but rather the collective efforts of everyone in the team, the head coach and staff included.

On the second day of competition at sitting volleyball, the Iranian men’s team played their first match and all eyes were on the towering Morteza Mehrzadselakjani, who scored 18 points in their straight-set victory over Germany.

“I don’t consider one player the best, I consider them a team. When Sadegh Bidgeli or Morteza plays very well it means that they got good passes, good serves, and received good set-ups from other players. This is teamwork. On some days, one plays better than the others, but they are a team.”
– Hadi Rezaei


But the Iranian coach pointed out that it is his duty to find talents and develop them to be stars like Morteza.

“It is my duty as a coach to discover players, to find talents and teach them,” he said.

“Morteza is not finished improving yet, he needs more time to improve and become a more complete athlete.”

With an intact team, their rivalry with Bosnia and Herzegovina is likely to continue, after consecutive gold medal matchups in the last five editions of the Paralympics. But the coach wants to take it one step at a time.

“Our main focus now is just on Brazil. I’m not thinking about Bosnia now as our main opponent, I’m just thinking about Brazil,” said the 60-year old tactician.

“Our tactics and strategies are not the same for all the games. We have five finals, we cannot say who is the best now. Everyone practised a lot and improved significantly in the past years.”

Iran will face Brazil on August 30 at 20.30 local time and will meet China on August 31 at 18.30.