|Volleyball Ireland have published their first quarterly report of 2020, which shows a significant increase in registered junior players compared to the same period of last year.|
As many as 227 under 18s have active player licenses compared with the end of March 2019, which is mainly due to the fantastic development work carried out in clubs across the country. The newly formed youth national leagues at U18 and U16 level for girls are driving participation as well.
Commenting on the data, General Manager Gary Stewart said, “The Q1 participation report shows that the investment in proper youth competitions is paying off. Not only that, there is clearly an improvement in the standard of youth players coming through which means that the average age of players in the adult national league competition is coming down. There are lots of elements that contribute to this, including quality school programmes, proactive clubs, a progressive youth national team programme and decent coach education courses and workshops.”
A chunk of the youth participation is related to a new Beginner Club Tour that the Volleyball Ireland Development team had planned for March in Limerick, which had almost 50 U13s registered. The week after, the first national boys’ competition also had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
With this in mind, Volleyball Ireland are hosting a webinar on youth section development this coming Thursday at 8pm (See http://www.volleyballireland.com/webinar-series.html#/).
It will be interesting to see what impact the coronavirus situation will have on the figures this time next year, Gary added. “For obvious reasons, we have not opened the beach registration yet which is skewing figures slightly. Also it is worth noting that the number of licensed referees has reduced, so this is an area we need to address quickly and the team working with the Education & Training Commission are planning some new initiatives ahead of the new season.”
Away from the court, the marketing and promotion of Volleyball is improving with a 37% increase in digital followers, mainly driven through additional creative content and an increase in the streaming of various events.
After chairing a meeting of the CEV Board of Administration late last week resulting in the approval of a ‘Marshall Plan’ for European Volleyball worth € 11.5 million, CEV President Aleksandar Boričić has taken the time to pen an open letter to all Volleyball fans. It encourages fans to stick together – just like members of the same Volleyball team – and to look after each other, while inviting them to come forward and share with the CEV their ideas and suggestions, as the Volleyball family works hard to overcome the coronavirus crisis and to support all stakeholders in the best possible way.
This is the full text of the letter:
Dear Volleyball Fans,
I very much hope that this message finds you and your loved ones in good health and high spirits.
We are going through an unprecedented crisis since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which has brought competitive sport, among other things, to a complete standstill across the globe.
I acknowledge that we at the CEV share your very same feelings; we miss, as much as you do, competitive Volleyball, and I know that many of you cannot wait to join your friends and keep the ball flying again.
But for the time being we have to be patient and make the best use of what we have learned from our beloved sport: the sense of sticking together, working as team, while showing solidarity and compassion for one another. Therefore, I trust that you are using this time to look after your family and friends, supporting each other through these challenging times – as one team.
With much regret, we had to take tough decisions and to cancel various competitions due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, among others the much-anticipated Champions League Volley Super Finals in Berlin. Believe me, it has been a very difficult call for us, but the well-being and safety of players, coaches and all of you remain our priority.
Meanwhile, I can assure you that the CEV is working tirelessly together with all our stakeholders to manage the effects of the crisis, but also to make sure that we are ready to re-start the engine of our activities once conditions allow and it is safe for everyone to do so.
I hope that you have been enjoying the work we have done through social media in order to engage with you and to help you pass the time you are spending at home with some Volleyball and quite a bit of fun.
The CEV remains open for any comments, suggestion and proposal you may have, the CEV would be happy to receive your feedback.
As I share everyone’s hope that life comes back to normal as soon as possible, I would like to reassure you that there is no virus or adversity that can extinguish the fire of passion that makes our hearts beat for Volleyball!
Stay safe and healthy until we can meet again!
With my best personal regards,
On Friday, CEV President Aleksandar Boričić had the pleasure of holding cordial talks with the newly elected President of the Malta Volleyball Association (MVA), Mr Edward Gatt and the MVA Vice-President, Mr Branko Vlahović, at the CEV President Office in Belgrade.
It was a truly precious opportunity to strengthen the cooperation with the highest authorities from the Mediterranean archipelago, in particular due to the problems Malta has experienced for a while, especially in terms of lack of Volleyball activities. With the help of their new leadership, the Malta Volleyball Association have drafted ambitious plans to initiate a number of projects and activities, especially the CEV School Project, with a focus on the further development of Volleyball in schools.
The MVA wish to work closely with younger coaches and physical education teachers, and the development of Beach Volleyball stands out as the most important part of their planned activities. This should also involve gradual involvement and participation in international events, while the organisation of some Beach Volleyball tournaments and age-group events is well under consideration too.
President Gatt expressed his gratitude for the meeting hosted by the CEV President, for the time spent in good and fruitful talks and said he very much looks forward to strengthening the cooperation with the CEV even further in the near future.
CEV and the Malta Volleyball Association wish to work together not only on the promotion of international cooperation, but also to make sure that the support provided by government, regional and local authorities can help grow Volleyball in Malta at a much faster pace than it has happened this far.
8 teams compete in 12 games over 3 days at the start of 2020, this means it is Novotel Cup time again.
This means a first determination of the location of the Luxembourg teams. After the games of the small states in Montenegro, a lot has happened, especially with the men.
The new coach Pompiliu Dascalu took over the helm in September and has to give up some regular players. Oli de Castro, Domnik Husi, Jan Lux and Arnaud Maroldt are no longer available for the national team. Full-time pro Kamil Rychlicki is missing from the Novotel Cup due to commitments with his club Lube Civitanove, Gilles Braas, Anthony Schumacher and Tim Laevaert and Maurice van Landeghem are out injured.
The core of the team consists of Chris Zuidberg, Max Funk, Mateja Gajin, Steve Weber and Philippe Glesener. They are completed by numerous youth players as well as Yannick Erpelding and Routinier Roman Richtarik.
Expectations should therefore not be set too high as the team has yet to find itself through the tournament.
For the ladies, the starting position is much better. Compared to the JPEE and the SCA tournament last year, “only” some changes have been made to the middle blocker position. The team around captain Isabelle Frisch will also be strengthened with the Walfer player Hana Cubonova.
Carla Mulli, from the Dutch top division club Huizen, is in the squad, but is unlikely to be used after her knee surgery. Also injured is main attacker Betty Hoffmann (back).
The RedLion Ladies are certainly looking for revenge for the bitter defeat at the JPEE against Iceland. England will be a benchmark for the future as the Vleminckx-Huibers/Schanet coaching team seeks to participate in the Silverleague and the European Qualifiers in the medium term.
On all 3 days the best atmosphere will be provided. The daily price is 10 EUR for adults (free admission under 18 years).
All games will also be livestreamed on RTL. LU.
The CEV Schools Project returned to Cork this December, thus bringing additional schools with more players into Volleyball. The six-week project began at the end of October with an introductory training day for physical education teachers. This built a base knowledge and allowed the schools to spend the next five weeks preparing their students for the fun blitzes scheduled for December 3-4 in Father Mathews Arena, Cork.
A total of 250 primary school students and over 100 post primary students will participate over the two days. The event will mean schools can compete at a similar beginner level and have challenging games through a fun and relaxed environment.
The project has much to do with the now well-established Cork club Netforce VC. The newly formed junior section will help these students have an avenue to Volleyball they can seek out after school is over to continue their development within the game. Schools will also be assisted into Volleyball Ireland’s national school competitions starting early in 2020. The real success story being Walterstown national school who started their volleyball journey at this same event last year, then making it all the way to an incredible National semi-final.
Volleyball Ireland would like to thank Cork Sports Partnership in working together on this venture and in particular James Kirby who has been a direct link and promoter of the project for the last two years. Together, the two parties have grown from 120 primary students to an incredible 250 in just one short year. It is exciting to see where they will go next!
This weekend youth teams from across three nations will descend upon Gormanston Park College Sports complex for Volleyball Ireland’s first ever youth development blitz and camp. The weekend camp will aim to build experience for younger players through some challenging matches, without the pressure of international competition.
The event will involve teams representing Denmark and Northern Ireland, as well as a range of regional representative teams made up of Ireland’s national team members and players from the new National Youth League. The blitz style event is partly funded through the CEV/SCA development fund and the Participation to Performance Programme. The schedule and concept will help prepare young players for international competition in the future.
General Manager of Volleyball Ireland, Gary Stewart said, “A key part of the strategy is to provide more opportunities for our young players to grow and learn and we are grateful to the CEV and Small Countries Association for their support. I am sure the players and coaches will gain a lot from the weekend and I would especially like to credit our Development Officer Conor Flood for his drive and determination while developing this project. It will be great to have our friends from Denmark and Northern Ireland with us for the weekend.”
This is the first international youth event of this kind hosted by Volleyball Ireland. The aim is to grow the event, providing opportunities for young Irish Volleyballers to enjoy, learn and develop their skills. It will be the first in a series of international age group events that will provide opportunities for players to reach their potential.
If anyone wishes to come along and watch, there is free entry.
The teams will kick-start the weekend with some training slots on Friday evening. Games will commence 9.30am, Saturday November 30 and will run through until 5pm. Then it is onto dinner and Saturday night activities exclusively for the players and coaches.
The camp will finish on Sunday morning with some light training sessions and fun mixed games.
Volleyball Ireland were delighted to launch a new programme as part of the CEV Schools Project. Mini Spikers uses Volleyball to develop Fundamental Movement Skills in children aged 5-8 years old. This focus on physical literacy reinforces the building blocks for all sports with specific games to aid improvement in running, catching, throwing and hitting. The first intake of schools took part in a launch event at Volleyball Ireland’s National Finals Weekend in May where over 50 children from local primary schools enjoyed Volleyball for the first time.
Programme Coordinator Jessie Carmody said, “Mini Spikers is about helping children improve their agility, balance and coordination as well as other elements of physical literacy. Research has shown that if a child has competent physical literacy, they are more likely to stay in sport. For Volleyball, it is vital that children can throw, catch, strike and jump before we introduce the specific skills of the dig, serve and spike. It is about getting the right foundation in place. There is a positive correlation between a child’s competency level and their enjoyment of a sport. And if they enjoy a sport, they will keep playing.”
Mini Spikers is part of a thorough pathway for participation in Ireland, which includes age appropriate adapted games for children from 5 years old right through to active elders aged 95 years old.
The programme is open to all schools with teacher training and resources provided to help school staff introduce Mini Spikers.
While paying a visit to Cyprus, CEV President Aleksandar Boričić had a high profile meeting with Mr Phivos Zachariades, Adviser to the President of the Republic of Cyprus on Sports (see picture).
President Boričić emphasised the importance CEV is placing in the development of youth sports in Europe and the need for everyone to work together to develop a strategy for that. The CEV President shared his vision to help grow the sport of Volleyball in Cyprus beginning from the grassroots level with the help of the CEV School Project, which includes assistance in terms of provision of balls and equipment, the organisation of coaching seminars and other projects in close collaboration with CEV.
The CEV President portrayed together with the Minister of Education
and Sports of the Republic of Cyprus, Dr Kostas Champiaouris.
The response from everyone the CEV President has spoken to – including the President of the Cyprus Olympic Committee, Dinos Michaelides, and Minister of Education and Sports, Kostas Champiaouris, has been very positive. They all ensured President Boričić that there is already a very good relationship and collaboration between their respective organisations and Cyprus Volleyball and this is certainly going to continue and expand in the future. Volleyball is the second largest sport in Cyprus (behind football) and it is in everyone’s priorities and goals.
President Boričić will remain in Cyprus for a few more days and will have yet another important meeting with the President of the Cyprus Sports Organisation, Mr Andreas Michaelides.
On Friday, CEV President Aleksandar Boričić paid a visit to d’Coque, the iconic National Sports and Culture Centre in Luxembourg City, and more specifically to the women’s Small Countries Association (SCA) Championship that started earlier today and will run there until Sunday.
The CEV President enjoyed some time with the leadership of the Luxembourg Volleyball Federation (FLVB), now chaired by Ms Norma Kemp-Zambon, discussing opportunities for further cooperation with the Grand Duchy’s Volleyball family. The FLVB are currently playing host to the first official SCA competition this year, with participation of the national teams of Faroe Islands, Greenland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
It was the first such meeting with FLVB President Kemp-Zambon, as the CEV and FLVB wish to continue their partnership, which has been especially close since the CEV moved to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg back in the late 80s. The CEV President wished everyone involved in the SCA championship the best of luck as well as a smooth delivery of the event, which adds to the list of international tournaments and competitions successfully hosted by the FLVB in recent years.
Picture: the CEV President portrayed together with FLVB President Norma Kemp-Zambon (far right), international referee and President of the FLVB Refereeing Commission Carole Hepp (far left) and the President of the FLVB Finance Commission, Ms Françoise Rossi-Wetzel.
Luxembourg are the winners of the 2019 Small Countries Association (SCA) women’s championship. The ‘Red Lionesses’ fought their way back from a set down to secure a 3-1 victory in the gold medal match with Scotland played on Sunday afternoon at the iconic d’Coque in Luxembourg City. This success bodes well for the Games of the Small States of Europe (GSSE) that Luxembourg will be contesting later this month in Montenegro.
Luxembourg lost the first set 23-25 but regrouped to claim three in a row (26-24, 27-25, 25-21) at the end of a very close fight to end the Scottish winning streak in the tournament. The Scots were yet to lose a single set going into the gold medal match.
After three competition days, Faroe Islands completed the podium, courtesy of their 3-0 victory (25-11, 25-13, 25-11) in the bronze medal match with Northern Ireland. Ireland settled for the fifth place after securing their first victory in the competition in the classification match with Greenland (3-0; 25-15, 25-23, 25-18).
Despite the absence of some SCA powerhouses such as Cyprus and Iceland, it is a truly historic success for Team Luxembourg. Never before had the ‘Red Lionesses’ claimed gold from the SCA (formerly SCD) event. Luxembourg had previously finished runners-up four times (2005, 2007, 2013 and 2017).
Photo courtesy of volleyball.lu.