Bydgoszcz, Poland, September 12, 2014 – France coach Laurent Tillie is perhaps the happiest man in the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship thus far, as his team came out on top of Pool D, which many called as the ‘Death Pool’; in the second round France have won both matches in Bydgoszcz against Argentina and Australia, and will move to Lodz to continue Pool E matches with Serbia and hosts Poland.
Part of the success of the French team is Laurent’s son, Kevin, the team’s outside hitter, who have greatly contributed to the team’s excellent offence – making his team and father very proud. The father-son tandem is not always the same on the court as Laurent explains.
“I treat him like any other member of the team, so he avoids to call me ‘dad’,” Laurent said. “This word does not exist during training. Kevin says I am more strict with him than his team-mates, but well he is my son.”
Laurent has other sons who did not follow their father’s footsteps but have been making waves in a different sport discipline. His sons have been equally successful in the international basketball scene. Laurent have been very supportive of this and could not imagine a different future for his children, even it meant that they would be far away from each other in these important moments.
“A life of an athlete is difficult, but it teaches you not only hard work and discipline but also teaches you how to play the game of life,” Laurent said. “It helps you to respect and keep good relations with other people. I cannot imagine raising my sons in any other way that with sport. Luckily, our sport characters do not bother us at home, at least for now.”
His youngest son, Killian, is 16 years old and initially played volleyball, but it was basketball that caught his attention. This choice paid off a few weeks ago, when Killian won the U16 European Championship in Riga, and was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
Laurent supports his sons and closely follows their progress in the competition. Even while watching the opening ceremony and the match of Poland and Serbia, the coach was following news on his mobile phone to find out how his Killian’s game was doing.
Kim, the eldest son, is 26 years old, and gives his father a lot of joy in his chosen sport. He is with the French basketball national team, who are competing in Spain for the Basketball World Cup. The French team is doing very well and have a good chance of winning the title. In their quarterfinal match, his team defeated hosts Spain and will play in the semifinal against Serbia.
Laurent’s team will also face Serbia this weekend in Lodz and both Tillies are hoping for victories in the two competitions.
“On Friday when we arrive in Lodz, I will definitely watch the match of Serbia and France,” Laurent said. “Even during our match days here, I keep my mobile phone with me to wait for the news.”
The question that never goes away is whether these four gentlemen will be able to compete together in one place – in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. There is a big possibility for at least three of them to have that opportunity as both volleyball and basketball national teams of France have been performing well in tournaments.
Should this scenario happen, Laurent can count on the support of the fifth member of the Tillie family, his better half Caroline, a prominent Dutch volleyball player. Killian may still be too young to play in the senior team but has a good chance of making a name for himself in the future. With such sporting genes the family has, they have all the possibilities to succeed and fight for the highest goals for France.
Written by Ewa Dabrowska, Young Writer Programme