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Meet our PCSC - Episode 3 - Lieutenant Rob Zijlstra, PCSC Volleyball and Beach Volleyball (NED)


CSC Leden MWC Beach Volleyball


BRUSSELS (BEL) - Today we meet our Dutch PCSC Volleyball and Beach Volleyball, Lieutenant Rob Zijlstra, former volleyball athlete and participant in the World Military Volleyball Championships ! Read about his CISM experience and his work as a PCSC!


CISM HQ: Dear Rob, we are vey happy to be able to interview you. First question for you: can you tell us about your background as a volleyball athlete?

Rob Zijlstra (RZ): "I started playing volleyball at the age of 10, with the local volleyball club Ormi in Epe, a lovely village in the east-central Netherlands. I had the chance to play on different talented teams, but unfortunately I could not reach the highest level of volleyball in the Netherlands. During my 18-28 years I played at different levels in the Dutch league."


CISM HQ: What is your best memory as a volleyball athlete?

RZ: "One of my most memorable moments as a player was when I participated for the first time in the Military World Volleyball Championship in 1987, which was held in Ankara, Turkey. This was an incredible experience as I had the opportunity to compete with national teams that fielded their Olympic players in this world competition."


CISM HQ: Did you compete in any military competitions before becoming a PCSC?

RZ: "As a player, I participated in five tournaments, and then I went on to serve as an assistant coach and head coach of the Dutch military volleyball team until 2018. During the World Volleyball Championships in Edmonton, Canada, I was honored to be invited to join the Sports Coordination Committee (SCC). During the Wuhan World Games in 2019, I collaborated with the PCSC (President of CISM Sports Committee) as a co-organizer of the volleyball and beach volleyball competitions, as I had already been appointed as new PCSC. During these World Games, it was announced that I would become the PCSC for the next term."


coach Mil Team NL


CISM HQ: Can you tell us about a difficult time you went through as a volleyball athlete and how you overcame it?

RZ: "Like all volleyball players, I have had to deal with several ankle and knee injuries in order to continue playing. However, my most limiting injury was a ruptured Achilles tendon. This injury caused me to miss an entire season. However, with the help of professional physiotherapy and a rigorous training program, I was able to overcome this injury. Today, I continue to play (beach) volleyball with pleasure and without injury."


CISM HQ: Can you tell us about your experience as a PCSC volleyball and beach volleyball?

RZ: "After all these years as a player, trainer and head coach of the Dutch team, I had a very rewarding experience participating in tournaments from a different angle. Instead of being on the side of the competitors, I had the opportunity to be on the side of the organization of a tournament."


CISM HQ: Can you describe the main responsibilities and tasks associated with your role as a PCSC member?

RZ: "In my opinion, the most crucial aspect is that the PCSC and its CSC members must ensure that the local organization feels supported and that the participants leave with unforgettable memories of the tournament. If organizational problems arise, our role is to assist the organization and make decisions, while ensuring that participants do not notice any of the problems.

As a sports officer in the Dutch army, I have already had the opportunity to organize many major sports events. Actually, organizing a World Military Championship (WMC) is easier because a lot of the work is done by the local organization. As the PCSC, our role is to guide them through the process leading up to the event. So if we can anticipate some of the problems because of our experience, it saves us a lot of time and effort."


CISM HQ: What are the main challenges you face as a PCSC volleyball, and how do you overcome them?

RZ: "As PCSC Volleyball, I am faced with various challenges that we must overcome. First of all, we have to make sure that the players' actions comply with the official international rules of the FIVB. However, we have the flexibility to make certain decisions based on the circumstances of each location and organization. This means that we can sometimes deviate from the FIVB provisions, while maintaining the quality of the tournament organization.

The key to overcoming these challenges is direct, open and honest communication. It is essential to establish clear communication with all stakeholders, including players, coaches and tournament officials. By fostering an ongoing dialogue, we can resolve issues and find solutions that respect both the rules of volleyball and the specifics of the PCSC."


Mil team NL1987


CISM HQ: How do you work with FIVB to ensure the safety and quality of Volleyball and Beach Volleyball competitions?

RZ: "First of all, I work closely with the other CISM members. Fortunately, the FIVB follows a four-year plan that limits rule changes. So when there are changes, I gather my team members at the next tournament to discuss the changes and possibly adapt them to the CISM rules.

In case of international changes that could have an impact on the CISM rules, I am notified by the FIVB. I then make sure to contact my team members immediately to inform them of these changes and consider adapting our rules accordingly.

In addition, I have excellent contact with CISM Headquarters when there are rule changes. Their assistance in the application of the CISM rules is invaluable. I have an excellent cooperation with the Sports Director Jan van den Dool and his deputy Ney Anderson. Their knowledge and support is essential to ensure that the rules and standards of volleyball and beach volleyball are met within the framework of the PCSC.


CISM HQ: How do you work with the FIVB and national federations to develop the promotion of volleyball and beach volleyball as well as CISM events?

RZ: "Our collaboration with the FIVB and the national federations is essential to develop and promote volleyball and beach volleyball as well as CISM events. Normally, it is the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) that contacts the National Federation. If possible, we support them by providing equipment or personnel, such as nets, referee chairs, referees and linesmen. Fortunately, most organizations have a good relationship with their national federation, which facilitates coordination and collaboration.

If communication difficulties arise, I can intervene by contacting the FIVB directly to activate them. However, so far this has not been necessary as the relationship between the organizations and their national federations is generally strong. This close collaboration with the FIVB and the national federations allows for the effective promotion of volleyball and beach volleyball at CISM events.


CISM HQ: How do you work with the different national committees to ensure the safety and quality of volleyball and beach volleyball competitions?

RZ: "We have a checklist in place to ensure the safety and quality of volleyball and beach volleyball competitions. This checklist is reviewed during preliminary visits to anticipate all aspects necessary to ensure successful competitions. This process works well and allows for efficient planning of safety and quality measures. It helps prevent surprises and creates a pleasant atmosphere for organizations and participants."


CISM HQ: What new technologies and innovations are being introduced in volleyball and beach volleyball and how has this affected your work as a PCSC?

RZ: "The latest innovations and technologies in volleyball and beach volleyball are mainly related to technical improvements in the video challenge system and communication with referees. As a technical delegate, it is a major challenge to determine if we can also use these systems at CISM events.

However, the use of these systems can be limited due to the high cost, the necessary licenses and the unequal access of national federations to these technologies. Sometimes, there may also be a lack of trained personnel to use them or it may be too expensive to recruit them. In such situations, a decision must be made quickly to work without these systems. It is important to clearly communicate these limitations during technical meetings for mutual understanding.

Despite these challenges, we remain focused on technological developments and innovations to continually improve our competitions and ensure a high quality volleyball and beach volleyball experience.


Speler Mil team


CISM HQ: How to manage crisis or emergency situations during volleyball and beach volleyball competitions?

RZ: "The management of crisis or emergency situations during volleyball and beach volleyball competitions is governed by the organization's specifications, which explain the actions to be taken. Generally, one person is specifically designated and trained to handle these situations. If an incident occurs during a match, procedures are often outlined in the rules. If it does not, the tournament director and I make a joint decision on what to do.

We place great importance on the safety of participants and spectators, and have clear protocols in place to respond quickly and effectively in the event of a crisis or emergency. Open communication and coordination between all involved, including officials, medical teams and organizers, is essential to ensure everyone's safety.


CISM HQ: How do you deal with cheating and doping issues in your sport?

RZ: "Volleyball and beach volleyball are highly regulated sports that generally deter cheating. However, in the case of unsportsmanlike behavior, we rely on the referee in the first instance to take appropriate action, and the CSC Technical Delegate is present to support and monitor the matches.

We maintain constant vigilance and work closely with the relevant bodies to ensure the integrity of our sport and protect athletes from doping practices.

The prevention of cheating and doping remains an important concern for us, and we encourage awareness, education and the promotion of an ethical sports culture to preserve the spirit of volleyball and beach volleyball.


CISM HQ: How do you ensure the ongoing training and development of referees and officials in volleyball and beach volleyball competitions?

RZ: "Ongoing training and development of referees and officials is essential to ensure high quality volleyball and beach volleyball competitions. However, this can sometimes be a challenge.

We encourage participating teams to send an international referee with them to tournaments. However, some countries do not have international referees on military duty and therefore send national referees. When we are faced with this situation during the tournament, our referee delegate is responsible for evaluating the level of referees present.

At the beginning of the pool matches, we allow each referee to officiate a match to determine their skill level. Based on these assessments, we can then make decisions for the elimination rounds or finals, giving priority to the international referees present to officiate these more important matches.

While the availability of international referees may vary, we do our best to continually assess and improve the skills of referees and officials. This may involve additional training, workshops or exchanges of experience between referees to further their professional development.

Working closely with National Federations, the FIVB and other relevant organizations, we also seek to promote the training and accreditation of referees in countries where there is a need for skill enhancement.

Our goal is to ensure that referees and officials are well trained, competent and able to enforce the rules of the game in a fair and consistent manner throughout volleyball and beach volleyball competitions.


CISM HQ: How do you manage cultural differences and language challenges in an international Volleyball and Beach Volleyball environment?

RZ: "In the international Volleyball and Beach Volleyball environment, managing cultural differences and language challenges is essential for smooth communication and effective collaboration. Fortunately, we have implemented strategies to address these aspects.

Regarding language challenges, we have found that most countries have Team Managers who are proficient in English. Additionally, many team captains are also fluent in English, which helps facilitate communication across teams. This common language allows us to effectively convey information and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Cultural differences are also taken into consideration and respected. We emphasize the importance of communicating with mutual respect and understanding. Within my own team, there are individuals from various cultures, which provides an opportunity to openly discuss and address any cultural issues that may arise. Creating an inclusive and respectful environment is key to fostering positive interactions among participants.

It is worth noting that the Volleyball community is well-established and has a culture of embracing diversity. This helps mitigate any potential cultural conflicts that may arise during the World Military Championships (WMC) or other international events.


Mil Team 2014 Brazilie


CISM HQ: What are the major trends and challenges facing your sport today, and how do you plan to address them?

RZ: "One major challenge we face today is navigating political contradictions. While the CISM takes a neutral position, political tensions can sometimes create resentment among participants. To address this challenge, it is crucial for me and my team to be vigilant and closely monitor the situation.

We rely on established regulations to guide our actions, ensuring that decisions are fair and unbiased. However, we also recognize the importance of a human approach. By fostering open dialogue and empathy, we strive to create an environment where participants feel heard and respected, regardless of political differences.

During the Technical Meeting (TM), I dedicate attention to clarifying our approach and addressing any concerns related to political contradictions. By proactively addressing these issues and emphasizing the values of sportsmanship and fair play, we aim to prevent misunderstandings and maintain a positive atmosphere throughout the tournament.

As the sport continues to evolve, we remain adaptable and open to addressing emerging trends and challenges. Our focus is on fostering an inclusive and harmonious environment where athletes can compete at their best while respecting one another's differences.


CISM HQ: What is the most memorable moment of your CISM career thus far?

RZ: "Throughout my CISM career, I have been fortunate to have many remarkable memories from the World Military Championships (WMCs) and World Games (WGs) I have participated in. However, one particularly poignant moment stands out. During the WMC Volleyball in 2014, as part of the Dutch Volleyball Team, we held a minute's silence under the Jesus statue in Rio de Janeiro. This moment coincided with the national moment of silence in the Netherlands, commemorating the MH17 disaster that claimed the lives of 193 Dutch nationals. Witnessing all visitors at the monument observing a moment of silence together was truly awe-inspiring and deeply moving."


CISM HQ: The floor is now open: do you have any closing remarks?

RZ: "It still feels surreal to me that a hobby like volleyball has brought me so much joy and fulfillment, both in civilian life and within the military. As I near the end of my "military volleyball career" as a PCSC, despite being retired, I am immensely grateful for the opportunities it has afforded me.

The CISM is an exceptional organization that has enabled me to forge meaningful friendships around the world. However, I hope that t
he CISM recognizes that organizing sports competitions forms the foundation of its existence."


You can find previous interviews with our PCSCs on the following links: 


Meet our PCSC - Episode 2

BRUSSELS (BEL) - Today we meet our Italian PCSC Track & Field, Lieutenant Margerita Magnani, also former middle-distance runner. 


Meet our PCSC - Episode 1

BRUSSELS (BEL) - It is with great pleasure that we present our new series "Meet our PCSC"...



(Interview from the CISM Media & Communication Department in collaboration with Lieutenant Rob Zijlstra (NED), PCSC Volleyball and Beach Volleyball)