2014 CEV DenizBank Volleyball Champions League-Men Final Four
22-23 March 2014-Ankara

Educated man of Halkbank waits for the Final Four 17 February 2014

The 26-years-old Sabit Karaağaç is a young volleyball player. He has been playing for Halkbank for 4 years; he also continues sustaining personal development. Expressed in a famous Turkish idiom: “he carries more than one melon in one arm” which means “he wears more than one hat”.

We interviewed with Sabit about volleyball and life and we had the opportunity to know him closer.

Sabit told his volleyball story:

“I started playing volleyball in high school years; my physical education teacher at the medical vocational high school encouraged me. I was recognised by a Turkish Volleyball Federation referee during a volleyball tournament between schools. He offered to make me “a real volleyball player”. So I started training for SSK club under Mehmet Sekeryapan’s coaching.

After one year, they called me up for the U16 national team. My jump height was very good; so I qualified to the national youth team. Then my national team days began. In the meantime, I was earning money at the club. I began to hope that volleyball could be my profession in the future. I continued playing for SSK in Senior team. Then I had to suspend my volleyball career for two years due to a serious injury.

When I recovered from the injury, I transferred to Bozkurt Belediye Spor. Then SSK Club wanted me to play for them again. After playing for SSK for two years, I signed a contract with Halkbank. I have been here for four seasons, we had great times and we won championships. I am happy now.”

As high as stars

Although Sabit has experienced a lot in his life, he is only 26 years old. He had the opportunity to play with many star players during his career. Halkbank team has numerous national and international stars players. We asked him: “How do you benefit from playing and training with them, is it a disadvantage?”

Firstly, he said that it is not a disadvantage and he mentioned that the only issue is the difficulty of surpassing them. He said that it might be motivating and added:

“There are many international star players in the team, the whole world knows them. We have the best Turkish players. Previously I played with many star players in different teams as well. Training with them gives you the opportunity to recognise your weaknesses; so you enhance your playing quality, improve yourself and learn professionalism better. You expend more energy when you are with elite players. The goal of surpassing them enhances your volleyball level. Because surpassing them means improving. The result is obvious.”

Education has not finished yet

Along with his decent personality, being a good volleyball player and his youthfulness; Sabit has another important characteristic: “being an educated man”. This is interesting, Sabit Karaagac beamed as he told us his education background:

“I must say that I am the least educated person in my family. This situation forced me to carry out volleyball together with the school. Although I succeeded to enter in a difficult High School, I preferred to go medical vocational school and volleyball also. I was tall, I liked volleyball and I chose medical vocational school because of easier lectures. After graduating from medical vocational high school, I finished Emergency Medical Technician College. Then I received my bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from Ankara University. Now I attend Anadolu University as the third one. I will finish soon.”

Acquiring professions by education and earning money from volleyball simultaneously, make him feel comfortable he says and clarifies his words as:

“God forbid, in the case of an injury, my second and third professions are ready. I worked at a well-known hospital in Ankara as an emergency medical technician for 1,5 years; in other words, I am experienced. “

Pointing out the advantages of being an international player, Sabit says that:

“According to the new law, we have the right to work as a teacher. Moreover, I have already got a formation and coaching certification. I am well equipped to cope with the bitter side of life. But it was not easy to achieve these. It is really hard to go to school and listen to the lectures in the busy training and game schedule. But I cannot accept that: “I already earn money from volleyball so nothing bad will happen if I terminate my education”. If you are a sportsman, you must think carefully! Your future is not guaranteed!”

Notion of Spare Time

We noticed that such a question “How do you spend your time other than volleyball and education, do you have spare time?” that should not be asked to Sabit.

He says: “We do not have any spare time in the season”. He adds: “Particularly if you are a member of a team with goals”.

He says that having 10 training sessions per week, plus games, especially away games (Europe and Turkey) are tough. So there is only one option in spare time: taking a rest.

Sabit defines their job as “heavy duty” and says:

“We do not have time for entertainment. You might allocate a half day for yourself after the games. You have only one week in the summer for relaxing. Since we are elite players, we cannot take a break longer than one week.”

Cup in Champions League is his dream

CEV Denizbank Champions League Final Four in Ankara haunts Sabit’s dreams. He has strong feelings about the competition. He believes that they can win the cup. He defines the Champions Leagues as the top level club competition in volleyball. He says:

“Our aim is certainly to win but principally it is a great honour to compete there. It motivates us further that the tournament will be held in Ankara. We work hard for success. The road to challenging for championship passes through good preparation. Last year we won the CEV Cup. It was a first in Turkish volleyball history in men category. Now we desire to achieve another first in history and raise the bar by winning the Champions League Cup.

We have to differentiate between the targets and the realities. We want the cup but we are not unrealistic. We do really have strong opponents. Here we will need our supporters, volleyball fans in Ankara. They must fill the stands without leaving any seat empty. Because we will need their support.”

Talking about Halkbank’s opponent on the 22nd of March, Sabit Karaagac mentions that Jastrzebski Weigel defeated this team in Ankara and lost in Poland with a score of 3-2. He said: “Russian teams are really strong. But if the name of the game is final, nobody will predict who will perform well on the pitch, particularly in front of your supporters. Because the atmosphere, the excitement will be different. The one who stays calm and uses his weapons well will take the podium. We want to be on the highest level of the podium. I hope I will be among the players who will live the honour of winning Champions League Cup for Turkey and Halkbank. If we win, this will be a new accelerator for Turkish mens’ volleyball. Halkbank volleyball team has such a mission as well..”

Target is 4 Cup

Sabit stated their target of this year as 4 Cups and said: ‘We are the leader in the Acıbadem Volleyball League of Turkey.’

‘We aim to be the champion at the end of this season. Turkey Cup is also in our target list. If we succeed to carry the Champions League Cup, plus Super Cup to our museum, we would complete the 3 in our list. We have already received the Super Cup of previous year and reached ¼ of our target.’

Iron men broke my finger

We have asked Sabit to describe his teammates with one sentence for each. And he said:

Matej Kaziyski: He is the most professional player I have seen.

Vefa Yılmaz: Vefa Abi (Brother Vefa) is very funny. If he was not a volleyball player, he would easily be a comedian.

Kerem Yılmaz: He is the youngest and the mascot of our team. He means a lot to us, everybody pick on him all the time.

Osmany Juantorena: He has been created as a Volleyball player. With all of his parts, exactly produced for volleyball!

Can Avyazoğlu: Can Abi (Brother Can) concentrates only his job. He is a defence machine.

Raphael Oliviera: He is a family men, a good father. If he was not a volleyball player, he would be a succesful farmer.

Burutay Subaşı: It would not be odd to call him an iron men. I have never seen a player hitting this hard. He left a souvenir to each of us in the team. My portion was a broken finger.

Emre Batur: I think he is the best player in Turkey, number 1. He is a live machine.

Hüseyin Koç: Hüseyin Abi (Brother Hüseyin) was born to be a Captain. He likes to talk a lot and to explain a lot.

Mitar Tzourits: He jumps incredible, like a flying man. He is a perfect middle blocker.

Mauricio de Souza: He just joined us. Even if he looks very calm, he never stops talking and plays good guitar.

Nuri Şahin: I have never seen a greed man like him, he is almost like a greed cube. He saves incredible balls.

Resul Tekeli: He is my good friend. He is very successful in volleyball and a perfect house man. He leaves home only for trainings, matches, hamam and sauna sessions. That’s his life.