Northern Ireland Volleyball adjusts to COVID-19 as activities resume

Back in March, the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic halted the whole world, including the Volleyball community. Matches stopped, training ceased, and players had to give up the sport they love to help stop the spread of the novel virus, but it was brilliant to see how everyone adjusted to the changing times. In Northern Ireland, national teams created fun challenges for each other and continued to participate in weekly fitness classes via Zoom.

Recently restrictions have eased, allowing up to 30 people to meet outdoors, which has meant some training and Beach Volleyball has started again.

Over the last two weeks, the national teams have been busy putting together a plan to return to training in a safe way. The members of the women’s national team met in small groups of eight to train on grass courts in Belfast with their coach Stephen McKeown, with the programme set over several evenings to allow maximum training with minimum players. Therefore, each player participated in three training sessions throughout the week with the same group every time, thus keeping contact with players to a minimum.


Members of the Northern Ireland women’s national team training on grass courts in Belfast together with their coach Stephen McKeown

The junior girls (pictured above) and development players followed a similar protocol, training on the beach courts in Portadown with small groups over the course of four days with their coach Karl Gale.

According to the agreed procedures, temperatures of players were taken before and after each session. Moreover, hand sanitising throughout and rotating ball carts made sure that all equipment could be cleaned between drills. It was great to see the teams back playing and working together whilst maintaining safety and social distancing measures.


Jeff and Sarah Scott were among the players to contest the mixed Beach Volleyball tournament held last week in Portrush, Northern Ireland

Beach Volleyball has also resumed in Portrush with a small mixed pairs tournament last Thursday. As many as 11 teams entered the tournament allowing three pools, followed by a Cup and Plate competition. Once again, players were encouraged to clean hands and equipment regularly which kept the play as safe as possible. It was so good to see so many familiar faces back on the beach for Volleyball.

There will be a single-gender Beach Volleyball tournament in Portrush this weekend following the same guidelines. Northern Ireland Volleyball hope that activities can continue throughout the summer and restrictions will ease further, thus allowing more players to join!

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