Excellence As a Volleyball Player and Coach
FIVB | April 22, 2022 – Frenchman Philippe Blain, 61, current head coach of the Japan men’s national volleyball team and secretary of the FIVB Technical and Coaching Commission, left his mark of excellence in his professional career not only as a coach, but also as a player; and not just as an indoor player, but also on the beach.
Born in 1960 in Montpellier, Blain comes from a family of athletes. His grandfather was an international rugby player, while his father switched from rugby to volleyball and then led the University of Montpellier volleyball club as president.
It was at this club, where young Philippe started playing competitive senior volleyball as an outside hitter in the early 1980s, and it was one of only two clubs he competed for in the entire his sporting career. With Montpellier, Blain achieved several top-four finishes in the French league, including two bronze medals in 1985 and 1989. The team’s greatest success during this period was the 1988 continental bronze in the competition of clubs in the CEV Cup.
The 1.93m volleyball player spent the last two seasons of his club career playing abroad for Alpitour Cuneo in the Italian league.
Blain instructing the French players at the 2006 FIVB World Championship
Philippe Blain had even more success as a national team player. He was a member of the French team from 1980 to 1991 and participated in four CEV European Championships, two FIVB World Championships, the 1986 Goodwill Games and the 1988 Seoul Olympics, totaling a total of 340 selections.
In 1985, Blain and his French teammates won continental bronze. In 1986, when France hosted the World Championship, the team finished sixth, while Blain himself was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. He received the same honor the following year, at EuroVolley 1987, where France celebrated with the silver medal.
Before starting his coaching career, Philippe Blain also represented France on the sand in four events during the first two seasons of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, alongside Alain Fabiani as a partner. At the 1990 Enoshima Open in Japan, they reached the semi-finals of the tournament.
After finishing as a player at Cuneo in 1991, Blain took over as head coach of the Italian club and began his new career. He then passed through several clubs in France (AS Cannes, Arago de Sete and his native Montpellier) and in Poland (PGE Skra Belchatow), winning the title of French champion in 1995 in addition to four other podiums, the Cup trophy de France twice (in 1995 and 1998), as well as the 2017 silver medals in the Polish PlusLiga and the Polish national cup. His greatest achievement at club level was the 1999 Cup Winners’ Cup continental trophy which he won with Cannes.
Philippe Blain left a memorable mark at the head of the French team which he coached from 2001 to 2012. Under his leadership, France won a bronze medal at the 2002 World Championships, a silver medal at the 2006 FIVB Volleyball World League and silver medals at the 2003 and 2009 European Championships, and qualified for the Athens Olympics in 2004.
In 2013, the French specialist accepted a staff position with the Polish national team, where he acted as an assistant, but also as a mentor to his compatriot Stéphane Antiga in his first steps in the coaching profession. In their very first season on the job, the Antiga-Blain tandem led Poland to the top of the world as gold medalists at the 2014 World Championships. A year later, they won a bronze medal at the 2015 FIVB Volleyball World Cup and in 2016 they led Poland to the Rio Olympics.
For the next Olympic cycle, Blain served as an assistant coach for the Japanese men’s national team. In this role, he won three medals at the Asian Championships, including a gold in 2017, as well as a bronze medal in the 2018 AVC Cup and a fourth place finish at the 2019 World Cup. Last year, he participated in his fourth Olympic Games, which Japan hosted in Tokyo.
After that, he was promoted to head coach of the Japanese national team with the stated goal of qualifying for Paris 2024, which would be his fifth Olympics and very special as they will be held in his native France.
Philippe Blain has been a member of the FIVB Technical and Coaching Commission since 1999.