Appeal launched to find more sitting volleyballers
28th July 2017
“Bums on floors; that’s what we need more of!” exclaims Vicky Widdup, vice-captain of the GB women’s sitting volleyball team. Vicky is hell-bent on a mission to recruit more sitting volleyballers. And while you get the sense that the more traditionally sought after ‘bums on seats’ would be nice too – in terms of paying spectators – for now, Vicky has her attention firmly focused on the floor.
“We’ve got to get more people playing,” she explains. “This sport has given me so much and now I just want to see it grow as much as it can.”
Vicky and her fellow sitting volleyball enthusiasts have a problem though. While there is an organised league competition in this country – something which many other countries are extremely envious of – there are large swathes of the country where there is no sitting volleyball being played. Individuals with an interest in trying sitting volleyball are therefore left with no alternative but to look for another sport.
Time to act
To address this issue, Vicky is now launching an appeal for anyone who’s interested in playing sitting volleyball to make themselves known. Alongside leading sitting volleyball coaches such as Ian Legrand and Richard Osborne, and supported by a host of players from the GB men’s and women’s squads, Vicky wants to offer whatever help and support might be required to establish more sitting volleyball clubs and training sessions.
“Essentially, we’re looking to evidence the demand for sitting volleyball and to act as a link between people who might want to play and existing (standing volleyball) clubs who might want to start laying on sessions. This is about finding more people who may be interested in playing for fun, fitness and friendship. It’s not necessarily about recruiting more elite athletes, although there are clearly options available for such people, should they emerge.”
“Currently, one person wanting to play sitting volleyball in an area with no existing provision will quickly lose interest. However, if we know of ten such people in the same area, we can try to bring them together. Also, having evidenced the demand, we could work with clubs in that area, encouraging them to lay on sitting volleyball sessions, providing them with the help and advice they need to start doing this. We can’t get out and run every single training session ourselves – but we can act as the link between interested communities and individuals as well as providing advice and support.”
Vicky and her fellow volunteers are trying to raise awareness of the attraction of sitting volleyball – for both able-bodied and disabled athletes – across various digital channels, such as the VolleySlide website and the GB sitting volleyball Twitter account (@GBSittingVball).
Anyone wanting to register their interest - as a player, coach, club administrator or volunteer – can do so by emailing email@example.com.
“This is as much about appealing to the existing clubs as it is to new players,” continues Vicky. “Several of today’s established sitting teams emerged from standing clubs who began to branch out into sitting volleyball. Realistically, it’s not that hard for such clubs to lay regular training sessions on. Facilities, equipment and volunteers are easier to come by if you’re already offering standing volleyball. But if you don’t believe there is any demand for sitting volleyball, why would you bother? That’s where I hope we can help.”
The power of sport
For Vicky, sitting volleyball offered her a route back into competitive team sport; something she thought was lost for good when she badly damaged her left leg in a motorbike accident, aged just 18.
“Sitting volleyball rekindled in me the desire to play high level, competitive team sport. It allowed me to be around like-minded people again; keen, dedicated, sporting enthusiasts. And it put me back into a competitive team dynamic just a few years after I had thought that I would never be able to participate in such an environment again.”
Alongside team captain Martine Wright, Vicky is a critical part of the GB women’s team which is now ranked 18th in the world. However, this is a sport where national teams can suddenly make great strides as the sport takes hold at home. For that reason, none of the GB players can afford to rest on their laurels.
“We need to be challenged”, continues Vicky. “We need more clubs, more coaches and, obviously, more players. But we can’t sit back and wait, hoping this might happen by itself. We must get out there and find these people.”
“Sitting volleyball provided me with the opportunity to play at the London Paralympics which was an experience of a lifetime. But it’s also seen me compete at the World Championships, a competition which features even more teams than the Paralympics did. Sure, the combination of full-time work, training and travelling all over the country can be exhausting but we do it because we love it. I just hope that others will now follow the same path.”
As well as providing help and support, Vicky’s GB squad is prepared to take their training sessions on the road to raise awareness. If a club can provide the facilities, the squad will travel and lay on an open session which anybody is welcome to come and watch.
Again, the firstname.lastname@example.org address is the best place at which to register your interest.