Sergey Gorbok: "It was important for me to start coaching exactly in Russia than abroad"

12 July 2022
39-year old Gorbok suddenly turned from yesterday’s player to today’s head coach of a Super League club. In Stavropol HC Victor the pre-season started with a new leader, although the former head coach hasn’t gone yet: Konstantin Igropulo passes the baton. Gorbok who is getting used to be addressed Sergey Valeryevich answered the questions of Handballfast.
 — HC Victor has just announced the new head coach’s name, and you are already in process!
 — On Monday pre-season work started. Of course, we started from acquaintance. My contract with the club will last two years. I am honored to have this opportunity to pass my knowledge and skills to players. 
I felt at once that guys in HC Victor believe in me. Even more I trust them. We have to learn how to play handball and be competitive at the world level. 
 — Not bad! So, you set your team ambitious targets, don’t you?
 — The bar of requirements should be set really high. Of course, nothing happens immediately. It’s a long way to be passed through. We have to examine each centimeter of our movements on the playground. It’s a hard work, sometimes with pain and blood, but high peaks can be achieved only this way. In doing so don’t forget my permanent message that we’ll cope with everything with a smile on face and with a positive attitude. 
 — You hold the first training camp of HC Victor together with Konstantin Igropulo. And he is leaving for HC Barcelona soon, where he will enter the headquarters of Carlos Antonio Ortega. It turned out the devolution of coaching responsibilities takes place within these days like a baton.
 — It was Konstantin who requested the management of Stavropol club to nominate me for his position. They considered me among other candidates. Of course, I’m thankful for this opportunity. During my playing career I saved up a lot of practices, which I would like to implement in work with the team.
We are in permanent and close contact with Konstantin Igropulo. It may be said, that both me and Konstantin felt the influence of group of Spanish specialists. I like the way Igropulo worked in Stavropol. I will continue the coaching line in many respects. Kostya passes coaching issues to me and immerses me into club’s processes. The main thing I would point out is that HC Victor is a real family, everyone treat each other warmly. And that should continue. 
Many players signed by the club came exactly to Konstantin Igropulo. We share similar views on handball, so the coach change won’t bring serious shock to the team. 
 — Apparently, did the events related to your invitation to Stavropol develop rapidly?
 — So it was. Firstly, Konstantin called me and asked about my plans and wishes. Then we talked to the club’s director Ivan Fiyev, Olympic champion Igor Lavrov, we discussed contract issues. Everything became clear within a week.
It was important for me to start coaching career exactly in Russia, because I want to pass on my knowledge, skills and experience here than somewhere else abroad. 
Of course, all this was unexpected to me and my family. My wife and daughters stay in Scopje (Sergey Gorbok ended his player’s career in North Macedonia in HC Vardar — Handballfast). We couldn’t solve our domestic issues in a different way now. 
 — The first experience in coaching — and you are heading the Russian Superleague team at once. Isn’t it too hard?
 — It is very responsibly, and I’m excited, but I was waiting for this challenge and got it. When I got in Hungarian Pick Szeged to Spanish specialist Juan Carlos Pastor, I realized that I want to be a coach. Two years side by side with Pastor enriched me with knowledge. Training courses were later, and then in HC Vardar when I wasn’t in team’s line-up due to injuries, I tried some duties of an assistant of the head coach, prompted my partners, explained tactical nuances. 
I didn’t receive work proposals for a long time. To some extent the invitation to HC Victor let my dream to stay within favorite sport come true. I would like to live full life in handball further an further, the same it was as a player. I will do my best to make my wards become bright and outstanding. Of course, there will be rises and falls, but I hope to grow together: they as players an me as a coach. 
 — Are the team players skeptical about the coach Gorbok? Don’t they treat you as an absolute debutant?
 — We held the first team’s meeting and continue to get acquainted and recognize each other. But I assure you, there is no scepticism. I let the players know, that I treat them with respect. I try to explain all my ideas in details, what could be useful in our work. There are a lot of complicated but at the same time interesting issues. As I said, the path is difficult, but it pays off.
 — Being a cosmopolite in handball world and a six different countries champion, is certainly hard to come up with answer what school had affected you mostly.
 — I would’t point out just one direction. Initially I’m thankful to my Minsk school and first coach Nikolay Vladimirovich Zhuk. My game technique, that made me known and appreciated in Europe, was layed by him. Then I moved to Zaporozhye, where the Ukranian coaches put a lot of effort in me.  
Slovenian handball, when I turned out to be in RK Celje, gave me a lot as well. And after there were coaching nuances from Yuri Shevtsov, Wolfgang Schwenke, Gudmundur Gudmundsson in Germany. And, of course, Vladimir Maksimov’s HC Chekhovskie medvedi, the most serious school that keeps on growing bright players. The example of Sergey Mark Kosorotov speaks for itself. Sergey progresses rapidly and now is playing at the highest European level. And only after that my career crossed with Spanish coaches: Juan Carlos Pastor, Raul Gonzalez, David Davis, Roberto Garcia Parrondo. It’s impossible to name the best among them. In my approach I seek taking something from each of them, there is no shame in studying on such bright coaching examples.  
 — What opinion did you manage to form about the team according to the very first days of communication?
 — It is obvious that in Stavropol there is an excellent team, where everyone is ready to work hard and encourage each other. I don’t want to get personal and single out someone from one side or another. I see that guys are eager to prove themselves and become stronger. 
I would like to point out once again the atmosphere inside the team. It’s a big family. It was a professional and proper attitude to our work that Konstantin Igropulo tried to bring to common process and what depends on me now. At the same time we don’t forget that everything comes from soul and heart. This is our organic family atmosphere.      
 — What targets are set for the team after winning the Cup and failure to get into play-off last season?
 — I won’t think of it in stride, but we will surely seek the highest places. Last year the team failed the start, the coach changed. Missing out on the top eight is in the past, and we’ll try to make correct conclusions from it. The team has high potential and together we’ll do our best to realize it in the game. 
As for the winning The Russian Cup — it’s a historical moment for HC Victor without exaggeration! It’s forever!
 — Are you going to to arrange a farewell ceremony to Konstantin Igropulo before he leaves to HC Barcelona?
 — Certainly we’ll get all together and tell him many warm words. The invitation of our man to the strongest in the world club is a remarkable moment for Russian handball. We can be proud of that fact. I am sure our players will find kind words for the road.
 — Are you used to be referred by name and middle name?    

 — Someone calls me Sergey, others — Sergey Valeryevich. By the way, Konstantin Igropulo also has middle name Valeryevich, it’s convenient for the players (smiles). But in general it’s not so important for me. The main point is that we immediately outlined the boundaries of mutual respect. We will be guided by this. 


Photo: press service HC Victor
Authors: Artem Shmelkov, M.Lyubimova


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