Betim, Brazil, October 21, 2016 - At age 38, there are still new thrills for Leonardo Patti. After a long and profitable career with Argentina national team, current Bolívar captain is now living an unexpected experience at FIVB Men’s Club World Championship, probably the only tournament that was lacking on his resume.
It doesn’t matter he’s been at 2004 Olympic Games with the South American team, or that he lived the unforgettable experience of playing a World Championship at home soil in 2002, or the several editions of FIVB World League played around the world. It can be told at first sight that Patti’s emotions are flowing strongly as he says: “This is a dream. I’ve been lucky enough to play a lot of tournaments with the national team, but this I thought it was out of reach. It’s an enormous gift to be able to play something as astonishing as this.”
Veteran wing spiker stresses the large magnitude of Club World Champs: “It’s a unique competition. Maybe I feel this because I’m living it at an older age, so you see things in a different way than before, but it’s truly like that. The organisation, the infrastructure, the quality of teams and players… It looks like some sort of ‘mini Olympics’ due to the excellence of everything.”
Although Patti has shared courts with the brightest stars of years ago, now it’s a whole other cast at the elite of volleyball. He recalls: “Yakovlev, Ball, the Grbic brothers… Now they’re not here. I’m seeing these new fabulous players, these volleyball monsters which I enjoy witnessing day after day. To be able to attend a game between Sada Cruzeiro and Zenit Kazan, the world’s two best teams, at this time of my life is something I just don’t want it to end.”
And there’s a final touch to this story which makes things even more special. “Bolívar was my first volleyball home; it’s the place where I first became Argentine champion and where I met a lot of friends. It’s a big emotion to be here wearing this shirt”, Patti explains. “If someone asked me five years ago about a goal yet to fulfill, I would have said to play this tournament with this team, with Javier Weber and his staff. It’s just fantastic.”
FIVB Volleyball Men's Club World Championship Betim 2016 - Teams