Interview time! This time, our interviewer is Robert Taht who is new transfer of Arkas Spor.Rumour has that, Robert is one of the best outside hitter who just joined to Arkas Spor. I hope you enjoy learning a bit more about Robert and can take away some valuable insights from what he has to share!
How do you describe yourself?
That’s a good question, but it needs a long answer. Right now, I am trying to push myself as much as I can and focus all the time like a fighter that never gives up.Estonian people are not so emotional, but I am..Actually, I don’t try to be emotional, it just comes from the inside.Also, I am quite short on the court, so I have to be more strived.Especially in reception and defence.
How did you get started playing volleyball? And what advice would you give for our readers who are just getting started?
I started to play volleyball when I was 9 years old. Also, my parents were volleyball players. I tried so many sports but volleyball is the sport that i like the most.
For the people who just started to play volleyball, my advice is quite simple. You have to like play volleyball. That’s the most important thing to start. You have to enjoy playing and practicing to get better each day.
Are there any sports that you follow except volleyball? Do you follow any teams in Turkey?
Volleyball has taken such a big time in my life, but I really like to watch NBA and Estonian Basketball League also. Of course, if there are important football matches, I follow them too. Actually, I try to follow all sports in which Estonian players are participating like World Rally Championships and athletics.
For Turkish sport teams,I watch little bit Euroleague, I know Fenerbahçe has a good team.
Which school did you graduate from? Have you ever thought of going to the university?
I grew up in a really small Estonian city(Tartu) which has only 14.000 people. After I graduated from 9th Grade, I went to Tallinn Sports Gymnasium. I chose that school because I always wanted to be a professional volleyballer.
When I graduated from gymnasium, I had already become a professional player in Estonia. I wanted to go to university but I knew that I couldn’t finish university because I wanted to go abroad as soon as possible. When I went to Poland, I was just 20 years old.
Maybe, if I finish my career in a foreign country, I would like to go back Estonia for the university.
To be honest, we do not say Estonia is good at volleyball, but in recent years Estonia have won European League at 2016 and 2018. You were chosen as MVP. What was the key point?
In recent years, we have managed to set good systems in Estonian volleyball. I can say that it started like 10 years ago. When we look at the Estonian League, we can see really good players. Around 5 years ago we had a really good coach Romanian Gheorghe Cretu who has more attention to young players. . Right now there are 20 Estonian volleyballers who are playing for good teams in foreign countries. I think that key elements are having a good coach and more support from the people who love more volleyball. Wherever we go with the national team, we started to see more fans. For example, we went to Riga(Latvia) for playing a match against Latvia. Almost 3.000 Estonian fans came to Latvia for supporting us. It was an amazing atmosphere there. Every year, it is getting better.
Before Arkas Spor you were playing at an average team in Poland, but now you are playing at a team which wants to be a champion. As a key player in court, does it make you feel different?
After the end of my contract in Poland, one of my goal was fighting for a medal. I think winning must be the first aim for every athlete. That’s my goal also.
Of course, every league is different from another. In Poland, there was a really high competition. It’s the same in Turkey. Also, the pressure is different. When I was playing in Poland against other stronger teams, I had to be free and relax. But now I play for ARKAS which is one of the strongest team in Turkey. Every team is coming to win in here, but they also know “Arkas is very strong. And they have nothing to lose.” It must be really oppressive.
You played in Estonia and Poland, now you are in Turkey. Do you think are there any differences between these leagues and Turkish League?
Yes! Every league is different. Estonian league is weaker than Polish and Turkish Leagues. But it doesn’t mean that playing volleyball is easy in Estonia. For men’s volleyball, Polish league is one of the great leagues with the strongest teams. I went there in early ages. I had trouble to get used. Also, the Turkish League has strong teams too. Playing volleyball looks similar in every league, but it is different.
We are at the beginning of the season, I still need more time to adapt here. Step by step, I will understand how all things work.
How is playing volleyball abroad your country as a young player?
First of all, it is not easy. If you play at home, you have your own friends and family with a speaking your own language. But if you play abroad, everything changes; like culture, different country, languages. When I went to Poland I was very young, I played with strong and experienced players. Think about it, I had World Champion in my team! These players were quite out of my level at first. But I tried my best, learned as much as I can from them. Eventually, if you want to be good, you have to go out and face difficulties. As you know in Estonia, we do not have a competitive league. People have to go abroad and mark themselves.
You look so energetic on the court. Is there anything that makes you angry?
Loosing makes me angry. For example, yesterday our lost against Tours made me upset. These kinds of things always cause things in a negative way.
Do you have a nickname?
My nickname is Robi. Actually, nobody calls me Robert, everybody says Robi.
You are playing with your sportgear all the time. Is it a kind of rituals that you do for luck?
Actually, it is cause of “Vert” which measures how many and how high I jump. Using this device is obligatory in Arkas Spor, cause it provides statistics for our coach. I have to admit it, it is really disturbing. Every time I jump, it slides and I have to put it in right place again. That’s how I am trying to make myself more comfortable during the match. I also have a lot of rituals before the game.
Why is 9 your number?
Actually, I wear number 9 spontaneously. When I played for the national team for the first time, they gave me number 9. Also, my favourite Estonian volleyballer played with number 9 until he retired. I remember my first day in national team like yesterday. I believe that it gives me luck. That’s how I started to use 9 as a number.
Who are your male and female idols?
I really like Kobe Bryant’s mentality. I admire the way he practices, personality and cleverness. Also as a volleyball player, I like Giba. He was an idol for me. He is also not so tall like me. Female idols are simple: My mother and grandmother who are volleyballers.
Which players do you like playing together the most?
I usually like all my teammates. In Estonian national team, I have a few friends that are really special to me. We grow up together and always followed same kinds of stuff, right now he is playing in Poland, Skra (Renee Teppan). Also, Estonian middle blocker who is one age older me was always my roommate. Again, the setter of Estonian national team who is close to 40(Kert Toobal) was the mental leader of the team. And finally, I have really good teammates in Arkas Spor.
What is your biggest dreams as a volleyball player?
To reach my maximum potential. Every year, I set new goals for myself in both career and social life. One of my goals was playing in the Champions League. And I did it! I played for the first time against Tour with Arkas Spor. Next time, i want to play in Final Four. Also, I always wanted to play in Italy since I was very young. And I want to win the Turkish Championship with Arkas Spor this year.
Would you share a moment that you couldn’t forget with us?
That was my first game in PlusLiga(Poland) with Cuprum Lubin. They transferred me when I was very young. At these time, Georghe Creteu coached Cuprum Lubin and Estonia men’s national volleyball team at the same time. He picked me up because he wanted to teach me. I wasn’t supposed to be at court at that time. I was on the bench until the half season. It was killing me mentally, I was waiting for my time. One player injured and the coach told me “You are going to play against Resovia”. I was so stressed, but I felt like I got butterflies in my stomach. When the game started everything went well, we won 3-0. I become MVP of the game. That was the time that I had a lifetime memory. That was like milestone form my volleyball career. I started to look at things in another way.I told myself “If you feel down, don’t give up. Just work harder and harder. The more you work hard, the more success you gain.”
What would you like to do for living if volleyball isn’t your job?
I don’t know, I thought a lot but I haven’t decided yet what I would like to do. For now, I enjoy to play volleyball and focus on my volleyball career.
What kind of person is Robert except volleyball time?
I think this question should go to my friends. Because I don’t know what kind of person I am. About my life in Turkey, I’m only a volleyball player. I spend most of my time for volleyball. But, it doesn’t mean that volleyball just consists of practising and games. When you are a volleyball player, you should take care of yourself and be careful about what you eat.
Also, I like to read books, I try to feed my mind. Sometimes, I close down all volleyball stuff for my social life. I’m really emotional on the court when you compare me in my daily life.
Robert; We appreciate for having time for interview with us. We wish good luck for you and for Arkas Sport Club for this season.
İt was pleasure for me. Thank you too to give me the opportunity to introduce myself to the volleyball community.