Tuesday, 23 April 2024

International Volleyball



Legendary Wilavan Apinyapong appointed assistant coach

Thailand Volleyball Association has on Wednesday announced a change at the helm of the country’s women’s national team, set to host the Volleyball Nations League Finals in 2024 for the first time in the history of the competition. Nataphon Srisamutnak, who was an assistant coach of the men’s national team until now, will take over from Danai Sriwatcharamethakul, who had been in charge of the Thai ladies since 2016, but has now taken up a club assignment in Indonesia. Former national team player Wilavan Apinyapong, a celebrated member of Thailand’s fabulous generation of stars, will act as Nataphon’s assistant.

Thailand will start their VNL 2024 campaign on May 15 with a game against reigning Olympic champions USA in Rio de Janeiro, to be followed by matches against reigning world champions Serbia, Canada and Korea later that week in the Brazilian city. During the second competition week, they will be in Macao, taking on Dominican Republic, France, hosts China and Brazil, before travelling to another Chinese city, Hong Kong, for their week-three matches against defending champions Türkiye, Bulgaria, Poland and Germany. As hosts, Thailand are sure to compete in the VNL Finals, set to take place from June 20 to 23 in Bangkok.

The 56-year-old Nataphon Srisamutnak, also known as Coach Ya, is a former setter of the men’s national team of Thailand. It is the second time he is at the helm of the women’s national team. In 2014, he steered the squad to a historic bronze at the Asian Games, their first podium in the competition, in between a long period, during which he was a coaching staff member of the team. During his career, Nataphon has also been in charge of the various age-category national teams of Thailand. In club volleyball, Coach Ya led Thailand’s Supreme TIP Chonburi – E.Tech to two back-to-back Asian Club Championship titles in 2017 and 2018, as well as several domestic trophies.

Nataphon’s assistant in the coaching staff of the Thai national team will be 39-year-old Wilavan Apinyapong. One of the world’s best receivers of her time, a winner of multiple continental medals at both the national team and club levels and the Most Valuable Player of the 2013 Asian Senior Women’s Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand and of the 2011 Asian Women’s Club Championship in Vinh Phuc, Vietnam, who put an end to her playing career in 2018, will now return to the Thai national…

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