Lee Da-Young opens up about signing for the French Ligue Boléro and what life has been like since returning home

Lee Da-young has a new club for her third year in Europe.
Bolero Le Caneda of the French Women’s First Division (Ligue A). At the end of May, Lee signed a contract in Korea. The club officially announced the signing on 10 June.

After returning home on 20 April following a back injury that prevented her from completing the season with Romanian side Lapid Bucharest, Lee declined Lapid’s request to re-sign her and has been looking for a new team ever since. In the meantime, a prestigious team in the Polish league made a good offer and negotiations were held, but a final signing was not made. In the meantime, a lower-ranked team in the Turkkiye League also made an offer, and PAOK, the Greek league where Lee had played two years ago, also made a good offer. After considering her options, Lee chose the challenge of playing in a new league and qualifying for the Champions League.

“The re-signing came later than I expected. Last year, I ended my contract too early and missed out on better offers from teams in Italy and the Turkkiye League. This time, I waited so that I wouldn’t have that regret, and in the end, a good opportunity came my way. I think it was good to be patient,” he said, adding that he was happy to sign with Bolero.

“I was close to signing a two-year contract at Chemic Polis in the Polish League, but the coach who wanted me was suddenly replaced. The new coach is Marco Penolio, who took over midway through the season with PAOK. He wanted to play three foreign attackers instead of a foreign setter, so my move to Poland fell through, but another opportunity came along. Thanks to the hard work of my agent, my dream of playing in the Champions League has become a reality,” he said, detailing the process of signing Bolero.

Bolero is based in Le Cannet in the Provence region of southern France. It’s close to Cannes, home to the famous film festival, and the holiday resort of Nice. The club has only been in the French League since 2018, but has won 13 league titles in the Swiss League under the Bolero name. The Swiss league giants moved to France in 2018 when they merged with Le Cannet in the French league. The move was rewarded with their first French Ligue A title in the 2021-2022 season. Bolero also won the title in the 2022-2023 season after reaching the play-offs with 16 wins, 10 losses, 49 points and sixth place. They beat Nantes 2-1 in the quarter-finals and Brunel 2-1 in the semi-finals to reach the final. In the championship final, they defeated regular season leaders Mulhouse in two straight games to win the title for the second year in a row.

Bolero also qualified for the 2022-2023 European Champions League thanks to their 2021-2022 title.
After finishing second in Group B, they faced Rzeszów of the Polish League in the round of 16. After taking the match 1-1, Bolero lost 13-15 in the golden set to fall short in the quarter-finals. Lee is now in his third year in the European league, and with Bolero, he has a chance to achieve his dream of reaching the Champions League knockout stage.

“I often watched Champions League videos because fans sent them to me on my phone or through links, and although I didn’t know about it in my first season in Greece, I realised what the Champions League was like when I played in the Romanian league and dreamed of playing there. After three seasons, my dream has come true, but I’m not there yet. It’s just the beginning. Now that I’ve reached the European stage, I want to play for a long time and make a lot of records.”

“In my first year with Greece, I didn’t have any thoughts. I was just grateful to be able to play volleyball, and I just wanted to do my best so I wouldn’t miss the opportunity. This year, after playing in the Romanian league, I wanted to play on a bigger stage. The Champions League is not for everyone. I’ve always dreamed of playing there one day as a starting setter for a qualifying team. It’s not important to just dream about it, you have to make it a reality,” she said, renewing her determination.

Since entering the European League, Lee has been progressively moving up the ranks. The French league is ranked fifth in the European league rankings after Italy Turkiye Russia and Poland. It has two of the 18 Champions League spots. The club’s president and general manager were keen to sign Lee, as they wanted a setter to complement the abilities of their star player Victoria Rusu (RUS), whose quick back passing will be a big help. The head coach is Danilo Pejovic (Serbia), who has been in charge since last season.

“I still don’t know why Bolero wanted me, I just think they needed me in their team. First of all, now that I’m a part of the team, I want to be the player they need when it matters. I want to hear ‘Lee Da-young saved our team’ when the team is in crisis. In Romania, I heard a lot of ‘Lida (Lee’s Romanian player registration name),’ and that’s why I heard that Rafido wants to re-sign.”

Bolero is a prestigious team, a far cry from the one she played for before. Helen Russo, a familiar face to V-League fans, played for Bolero Zurich in the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons. Anna Lazzavera also played for Bolero Le Canet in 2019-2020, the season before joining IBK. Other notable V-League players include Sheridan Atkinson (2021-2022 season) and Nia Reid (2020-2021 season). Melissa Vargas, who recently joined the Turkiye squad, also played for Zurich in the 2017-2018 season.

Bolero has already signed four Russian players, as well as players from Lithuania and Bulgaria. There is also Serbian international Apojit Vanya Savic, who was highly sought after by V-League teams. Savic was unable to attend the tryouts due to his participation in the French League championship final. Setter Viktorilia Kovza is a Russian prospect who won the best setter award at the 2018 U-18 World Championships. She was born in 2004 and stands at 183cm. Lee Da-young will have to compete for a starting spot 메이저사이트.

The club will provide him with an apartment with a view of the beach and a car. In terms of stadium facilities and player management, he will be in a much more comfortable environment than he was in the Romanian league. “I was told that I will play in the best conditions. To be honest, I haven’t heard the specific conditions from the club yet, but I found out because many fans sent me posts on social media saying, ‘I know the team and I’m happy to play in the best environment,’ when the rumour went out that I was going to Bolero,” he said.

Lee has been resting since returning to Korea on 20 April, and is now focusing on rehabilitation and training ahead of the new season. “When I came to Korea, I rested for a while and focused on my back. I had acupuncture and physiotherapy to help me recover. Then I went on a short trip to Da Nang, Vietnam with my friends. I took a month off and started training in earnest on 20 May. Now I’m in the rehabilitation and basic fitness phase. I’m training with weights and preparing for the season earlier than in other years. The sooner I get ready for the season, the better I can show. My departure date hasn’t been finalised yet as I haven’t heard from Bolero about when I’ll be arriving. Until then, I’ll be training domestically. In July, I’ll start training with the ball. Before I leave, I’ll meet with the press and talk to them in person,” he said.

We asked Lee, who is entering his third season in the European League, what has changed since going overseas.

“In my first year with PAOK, I was just busy playing volleyball. I didn’t have any experience of playing overseas. In the second year, I thought a lot and watched a lot of match videos and studied. My play changed a lot. The biggest change was being able to play over-plays with multiple attackers. I also became calmer. I heard that a lot in Romania. Technically, I used more back attacks, especially from the pipe. In Greece, I didn’t realise the importance of back attacks. In fact, it was harder in Romania than in Greece, but you can’t always play volleyball in a good environment in every team. It was a great learning experience for me because I had something to learn both technically and mentally,” she confessed.

Before travelling to Bolero, she also had a new task: driving. Driving.
“I’m still not good at driving. In Romania, I wasn’t good at driving, so I took taxis instead of the car the club gave me. But with my new team, I’ll have to learn to drive. The team is based in a resort area, so the roads are wide and the distance between the accommodation and the stadium will make taxis very expensive. That’s why I need to take driving training while I’m in Korea.”