Great Britain Womens Sitting Volleyball Development Programme Announced!

VOLLEYBALL ENGLAND ANNOUNCES FIRST OFFICIAL WOMEN’S SITTING DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME FOR PARALYMPIC DISCIPLINE

SIGHTS SET ON LONDON 2012 PARALYMPIC SUCCESS AS WOMEN’S SITTING VOLLEYBALL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME SCHEDULE CONFIRMED

Volleyball England has announced that Great Britain Sitting Volleyball will include a Women’s Development Programme for the first time in the sports history and there were two players from the East Midlands included!

Louise Darby and Andrea Green have been training with Loughborough Lions since September and have both been selected to be part of the Great Britain development squad that are currently in training for the World Championships in July.  The Development Programme aims to recruit and develop players for top-level competition in time for major competitions such as London Paralympics 2012.  Both have figured strongly in the East Midlands Grand Prix team and have improved greatly in their short time of playing the sport. 

The announcement was made alongside confirmation of the programme’s 2010 schedule of events. Recruitment drives, training sessions and competitions will take place at devoted “Sitting Centres” that have recently been established in England, Scotland and Wales to help support the Great Britain Programmes.

The programme is currently being led by John Bestebroer, who previously coached the Dutch Women’s National Sitting Volleyball Squad to win the Bronze medal in Beijing 2008, Steve Jones (Volleyball England, Workforce Development Manager) and Gordon Neale OBE as Team Manager who has worked in Disability sport his whole life and is currently a senior manager for Disability Sports Events. (www.disabilitysport.org.uk)

The Player Development Pathway takes the form of a three-tiered pathway: the Sitting Volleyball Centres will drive activity such as hosting training days and recruitment drives; the second tier will enable players capable of progressing to train weekly with the GB Men’s coaching staff; the top tier will select squads for the major competitions.

Richard Callicott, British Volleyball President, said: “these are exciting times for Sitting Volleyball and the future looks very promising. The formation of a Great Britain Women’s Sitting Volleyball Development Programme comes at a time when Sitting Volleyball is continuing to grow ahead of 2012.

“The men’s programme has gone from strength to strength, so the momentum has been easy to pick up for the women’s programme.  London 2012 offers a great opportunity for Sitting Volleyball: we are confident that if we get the right athletes training in the right environment more frequently than our rivals we can accelerate the programmes and be able to compete with the World in 2012. 

“Our GB squads are by no means finalised, we are still recruiting via our regional centres. We’ve already seen considerable growth of interest in the sport and now have around 150 people playing regularly in the UK, up from just 40 in summer 2009. I would encourage anyone who’s interested to get involved with our programmes: you never know, you could be representing your country in a few years’ time on a world stage!”

Sitting Volleyball was introduced to the Paralympic Games in 1980 as a men’s sport, and later as a women’s sport at the Athens Paralympics in 2004. The GB Sitting Volleyball hopes both men’s and women’s squads will compete in the London 2012 Games: the first time Great Britain will put forward Sitting Volleyball teams to compete in the Paralympics.

In Sitting Volleyball, the international rules for Standing Volleyball apply in principle, with amendments allowing for a sport for disabled players: during play, a player must touch the court with some part of their body between the buttocks and the shoulders and also you are able to block the serve. Sitting Volleyball is played on a smaller court (meaning quicker points and faster, more exciting play) with a lower net to account for the players’ seated positions.