10 Jul 2024

Soczewka urges England pairs to push themselves: CEV U18 European Beach Championships 2024 preview

Soczewka urges England pairs to push themselves: CEV U18 European Beach Championships 2024 preview

England Coach Prezemek Soczewka is looking forward to seeing how far England’s pairings can push themselves at this week’s CEV U18 European Beach Championships 2024.

Both teams – Alice Jagielska and Molly Quinn and Bailey Harsum and Lewis Bunton – were victorious at June’s NEVZA Youth Beach Championships in Bridlington. 

But this tournament in Kachreti, Georgia, with matches taking place from Thursday through to Sunday (for the finalists), is sure to be a much more difficult assignment, where they are set to encounter some of the best young players on the continent. 

“It’s going to be a huge step up this week, but I’m sure a challenge the players will enjoy,” said Prezemek, pictured above, celebrating Harsum and Bunton's NEVZA success.

“The top NEVZA standard is probably on a par with some of the weaker to mid-ability teams at the CEV event, so it is not going to be easy. 

“It is a good opportunity to see where we are against some of the best teams in Europe and I think with both pairs they can prove themselves to be ‘mid-table’ in terms of ranking across the countries.” 

As ever, the participating countries are not only looking to get themselves on the medal rostrum, but also help future competitors from their respective countries. 

Prezemek said: “The competition is important for the future of our teams because each of the matches is scored and used to decide future seedings. 

“If our teams perform well that means that our seeding will be better next year. Even if it’s going to be very tough to go deep into the tournament, even winning some of the games will be important. 

“I think for our teams, getting out of the group has to be the initial aim and a result we would be happy with. 

“The pairs we have could go beyond that, but a lot can depend on the draw and who you are up against. 

“Obviously if you pull a lot of the top nations it makes things far harder, so we will wait to see what happens in tonight's draw.” 

Prezemek has been pleased with the way the pairs have been training either side of their NEVZA wins on the East Coast, where they played the likes of Norway, Sweden, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Scotland and Ireland. 

“NEVZA has been really good preparation, but the guys have also been training hard too and have been together a lot,” said Prezemek. 

“Even as recently as this weekend they played in the All Nations event at Leyton and both reached the semi-finals. 

It’s extremely important to have that time together leading up to a big competition, even if it means you lose to strong opponents. 

It’s better to lose a couple of your games against good teams than win 10 games against weaker opposition, because that is how you learn. 

It was recently confirmed that a new indoor beach volleyball centre at Birmingham City University (BCU) and Prezemek believes this will be of significant benefit to those who are competing in Georgia, as well as the next generation. 

He said: “I think the indoor centre is going to move the sport of beach volleyball forward in this countryI certainly hope it will. 

“I think we have been one of the few countries in Europe who have not had the facility and you can see the impact it has had. 

“Some of the countries we used to be ahead of have now gone ahead of us and I think these types of facilities have a massive impact on that. 

“Yes, you can still strain outside in the winter, but it is no fun training in the wind, cold and rain at that time of year. 

“This will allow our players to train specifically in beach all year around, as well as have beach competitions in the winter. I think it will help get more players into the sport and retain them as well.” 

Images by Nina Erminio and Jon Cornish