Betim, Brazil, October 30, 2015 - Just a quick look at his name is enough to understand: León is the Spanish word for ‘lion’ and Venero is close enough to the verb used for ‘venerate’. And this Cuban super spiker, playing at the FIVB Men’s Club World Championship for the first time, is demonstrating why he commands respect on the court.
Wilfredo León Venero, with 43 points gathered in only two games played with Russia’s Zenit Kazan in Betim, is currently the leading scorer of the World Championship, shining bright among a constellation of stars that play at the tournament that every club in the world is eager to be in.
“It’s an excellent competition, with a very high level of teams and players”, he says. “Many games have finished 3-0, but you can tell by the scores of each set that the difference between the teams is minimal. That shows the amazing level you have here.”
He might be a rookie here, but Zenit Kazan are in search of their third World Championship medal, after a couple of bronze ones collected in their previous runs. For León, the opportunity means a lot more: “It’s a way to express my thanks to the team for the way they have received me. We work a lot and this is a consequence. But besides that, they do a lot for me and it’s great to repay them.”
“I feel excellent in Russia”, the wing-spiker continues. “They made me feel like part of a volleyball family. It’s an unforgettable experience for me to be part of Zenit Kazan, and I will surely remain here for a while.”
On top of that personal side, Betim is providing an excellent atmosphere for the World Championship, with noisy fans that make the temperature at Ginasio Divino Braga even hotter. Although for the Russian team the temperature may represent a challenge, he smiles: “Well, I’m Cuban, so this heat is not a problem at all for me. I’m enjoying Brazil a lot and the people here are very kind with us.”
Well treated in Russia, well treated in Brazil… And what about Poland? León doesn’t dodge the ball about the rumors of a future among the current world champions: “I’m waiting for several things that are not in my hands. There’s nothing I can do for now. My wife’s family is very kind with me, other people as well, so we’ll see.” Right now, it’s Brazil time. That’s where the roar of the lion sounds now, at the decisive moments of FIVB Men’s Club World Championship.