18 Oct 2022
More than a moment: how volleyball is prospering from a triumphant home Games
Team England’s volleyball stars enchanted the public with their displays of magic at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
National media lauded the brilliant Bello Brothers as breakthrough stars for their landmark bronze medal, while others described the sport as the surprise hit for its on and off-court entertainment.
The sand may have settled at Smithfield, but the years of hard work that went into making it all possible continues as the Volleyball Family works to carve out a substantive legacy for the sport we all love. This really is Our Time To Shine.
In the first of a series of articles exploring developments in each of our legacy pillars, we dive into the projects focused on bringing new participants into the sport.
Our Time To Shine: Participation
Thanks to the tremendous efforts of clubs across the country, 148 taster sessions for either volleyball, beach volleyball or sitting volleyball took place during July and August.
At just one of those, the Smithfield festival site in the heart of Birmingham, approximately 5,000 people practised the power of their spike on an inflatable speed cage during the Games. A band of volunteers and national team athletes kept the energy levels high and the queues spilling out beyond the beach volleyball hub.
Of those 5,000 – which doesn’t count those who just came for a selfie with our mascot Spikey or to measure their wingspan against Joaquin’s (it’s greater than his height, you know!) - almost 1,500 wanted, and have received, follow-up information on how to start playing the beautiful game. We look forward to seeing many of them join affiliated clubs across the country.
Coventry & Warwick Riga VC took advantage of the fully-funded activator training we organised ahead of the Games and subsequently ran four 'have a go' sessions, attracting 38 new participants. As did Cambridge Volleyball Club, who engaged with 12 new players. And that's but a brief insight into the impact of just 5 of of the 148 taster sessions run by clubs.
In a survey of Birmingham 2022 spectators, 43% suggested they will increase their activity levels as a result of the Games. That figure rose to 71% for those under the age of 25. We are in talks with Birmingham 2022 about sharing further opportunities for new volleyball fans from their database to get involved – that’s if they haven’t already been tempted to give it a go!
The Volleyball England Foundation’s partnership with the Aston Villa Foundation continues to go from strength to strength. Launched earlier this summer, the project has seen trained coaches from the Premier League football club’s official charity deliver volleyball to 1,280 children in the areas of Aston, Harborne, Halesowen, Burntwood and Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands. A fantastic initiative that is taking our sport into the heart of communities in and around the host city.
The Bello Brothers brilliant bronze will undoubtedly be the lasting memory for many who watched beach volleyball at Birmingham 2022. For those who tuned in for the first time, we’re working hard to ensure their association with the sport doesn’t end here. There are so many opportunities for newcomers to get involved and we’re encouraging them to give them a try and create even more volleyball memories of their own.
Photo caption: England athlete Sam Dunbavin puts budding volleyball stars through their paces at Smithfield.