New beach duo ready to tackle maiden season
16th January 2020
With the festive and new year’s celebrations behind them, Freddie Bialokoz (Right) and Issa Batrane (Left) are back on the sand preparing for their first campaign together after announcing their new partnership in December.
Being a new team, they know they must find their feet, but the pair have big ambitions for the years ahead.
“Freddie and I have known each other for some years and last summer, when we incidentally played together, we had a good connection,” said Issa, 23, who made history at the 2019 UKBT Championships by winning all 3 grand slams, each with a different partner. “Freddie reads the game really well and, as a blocker, he has a great intuition. You don’t see that so often for someone this young or in most blockers at all. He’ll turn 20 in 2020.
“I didn’t play in many tournaments in 2019 but everybody who knows me also knows my ambition,” added Issa, who stands at 5’10”. “I want to go out there and I feel ready to measure myself against the best, so I knew I had to change something for the 2020 season. That is why I asked Freddie to play. I see he has the same ambition as me and we want to achieve something great together.”
Freddie, 6’8”, graduated from the England Juniors Programme in 2018 and comes from a family of volleyball players.
“I was pretty happy when Issa asked me to play since I see him as the best defender we have in the United Kingdom,” said the 19-year-old. “He can already match-up against the better teams in Europe, especially with the right partner. Physically he has been working so hard in the past couple of years. This also really motivates me to do the same as I want to be in the best shape I can be for the start of the new season.”
New year, new goals
They might have only just embarked on their joint journey to sporting triumph, but the goals for Team Bialokoz-Batrane are already crystal clear to them. Should they be selected, Freddie and Issa want to win a medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and hope to represent Team GB at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
Issa said: “With our Dutch coach Tijmen Companjen, and Lewie Lett, we have a great team around us.
“We spend as much time together as possible and, in case we can’t train together, we have our own training groups and training plan. I moved to The Hague in September and started training with challenging teams from Belgium and the Netherlands. And, very importantly, we train indoor on sand, which is a great advantage compared to being in the UK.
“If we do really well this year, we might compete in the Beach Volleyball World Championships in 2021, then surely we will play the Worlds in 2023.”
Returning to this season, Team Bialokoz-Batrane is focused on improving their game through training and building up tournament experience. Come early spring, they’re aiming to travel to Asia, to play in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, so that they’re ready for bigger tournaments in Europe.
Issa added: “We want to place ourselves with the English squad for the final of the Continental Cup. That would be a great result for our first season together.”