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London Volleyball : Playing for Fun
Posted by Douglas Barr-Hamilton on 2012/6/25 7:10:00 (2435 reads)

Anticipating response to Games profile
The answer to “Where?”
Revival of the Foundation League; a men’s, women’s and mixed division; a couple of dozen teams; 250 more people playing volleyball competitively in London. This is a real possibility of the likely growth in this area and the working group and London Volleyball need to make plans for this. That’s just part of what the Adult Recreational Volleyball working group is asking from the capital’s volleyballers.

“It was lovely walking through the park,” somebody said to me recently. “Young people playing tennis, cricket, soccer, frisbee …”
Wot, no volleyball?

What! Where can they play volleyball?

We could organise a similar activity. I set up a near-spontaneous game of volleyball during a Diamond Jubilee street party a week or so ago. A “net” made from the bunting proved quite effective and I was impressed by the ability of several of the neighbours. However, the like of this will not be enough if our sport is to benefit from the big numbers predicted to be motivated by the Olympic Games to try our game. And we will be asked exactly this question: where can I play volleyball?
And often; although not usually in the park but by telephone and email many will give the response I always have to give, “Not at my club.”

If the question is pressed, there are tournaments, Ashcombe and Brentwood come to mind; they come once a year. There is a commercial enterprise, GO Mammoth but its facilities could not meet the sort of demand that’s likely. There are some local enthusiasts: Playfit in Wimbledon and Cerus VC (formerly Meetup) in Kensal Green and I suspect their set up would be swamped. There is the beach: courts at Leyton and Crystal Palace but I doubt if the weather will hold after the end of September.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the Working Group for Adult recreational volleyball Gary Beckford explained what he has been preparing for London volleyball after the Games.

Play will start on the beach. At Leyton’s Score and at Crystal Palace but also at new centres to be created from the sand that has to be removed from Horse Guards Parade immediately after the Games. It will be “pay and play” on weekdays but free at weekend as the sport concentrates on introducing volleyball to first time players.

During the weeks of that introduction, the leisure provider GLL (Greenwich Leisure) will be training forty coaches to level one and from the beginning of October they will be put to work with a paid qualified volleyball coach mentor (now’s the time to recoup the cost of those courses) in most of their fifteen centres as demand requires: from Compton (Barnet), Swiss Cottage (Camden), Britannia (Hackney), Dormers Wells (Ealing), Harrow, Brixton, St Augustine’s (Westminster), Crownwoods (Greenwich), East Ham and Kelmscott (Waltham Forest). Funding has been assured for 6-8 weeks from early October and with participants making their own financial contribution, everyone is confident of the viability of the proposal and the leisure centres are keen to continue the initiative. To try to capture those who have gone to watch Olympic volleyball games, a deal has been made with Groupon and will be advertised in mid August as the Games end.

Some clubs will want to attract some newcomers, of course, and the association encourages all who do to have a go. Some may be unaware that some funding is available even now and Sportivate will consider applications for up to £1,500 for schemes for 14-25 year olds and while Gary will try and advise (g.beckford@volleyballengland.org), treasurers and secretaries should note that the applicant club must show there is a genuine need for the help and that there are other criteria including partner funding, a minimum coaching programme of six weeks and a confirmed exit route showing the capacity to accommodate the increased number of participants that results.

The next demand will be for a competitive element and the working group came up with two ideas. The first asks us to be ready to revive the Foundation League. Unless numbers are huge, it thought it should be mixed, men and women, and for players over 16 years of age. There are separate plans for junior development. An administrator will be needed – any volunteers reading this? The rules will need to be reviewed and douglasbh has drafted a set for discussion. The second idea was for a monthly tournament-style day with teams selected on arrival at a venue (Bethnal Green, for example) that would become familiar. Again, it would be for over 16s but all newcomers to the sport would be welcome and not simply those playing in the Foundation League. Meeting the cost would be a problem and the group wondered about a player registration scheme with the player subscribing to share the cost among participants.

There was a relatively small attendance at this meeting but that meant a lot of ground could be covered. A wider spread of experience and opinion would help take the proposals forward and if you would like to contribute to the discussion please let Gary know.

Or, better still post your comments using the button (bottom right) so we can all get involved.

Adult Recreational Volleyball Working Group : University of East London, Stratford, 20th June.

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