England ready for NEVZA tournament
26th October 2017
The North European Volleyball Zonal Association (NEVZA) Under 19 Championships begins in Kettering tomorrow with England well prepared to take on some of the best volleyball talent from Europe.
Denmark, England, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway and Sweden will compete in the three-day tournament for junior men and women, which is being hosted at the National Volleyball Centre for the second year running.
England junior women’s Acting Head Coach Paul Welsh says his team are in a good place ahead of their first game against Denmark, which starts at 9am tomorrow.
“We came into camp early on Monday and preparation has gone really well,” says Paul. “All the staff are really impressed with how the girls have come into camp. They’re in a great place physically and mentally and they have backed that up with their training and performance. We’re really positive and excited.”
The England women finished in fifth place last year and have a clear target for their performance this time out.
“We’ve got a philosophy this week to be aggressive and go for it, and take risks,” says Paul. “That’s our aim for the competition. In the last three days of training, the girls have done well in delivering that in training; taking risks in offence and being brave in defence.
“Our main aim is to stay aggressive and take risks, and, ultimately, enjoy it. That’s a big message for us to the girls and the staff, enjoy it. There is no pressure.”
The England Men finished fourth last year after defeat in the bronze medal match. They start their campaign against Iceland at 1pm tomorrow. If they can come away with a medal this time, it would be a brilliant achievement says England’s Men Head Coach, Darren Lewis.
“Bronze or above in this tournament would be an amazing achievement for us,” says Darren. “If you look historically at what English teams have done in this tournament, we’ve only ever won a bronze medal – that was with the team I had two years ago. Realistically, you always want a medal. I could say I want the gold but if we haven’t done it historically it’s going to be difficult to do it for the first time. I’m realistic but then I’ve also got a group of athletes that the data tells me, in terms of athleticism and physicality, can compete at the highest level, so that’s really encouraging.”
The NEVZA tournament is a flagship tournament for England’s junior teams and crucial in developing them for the next stage of their careers.
“The way the tournament is structured, you get four of five quality games, pitched at the right level for us,” says Darren. “For these athletes, the tournament is incredibly important as you don’t want to be training all year round and not have anything competitive to play for at the end of it. This week is the most important in the calendar and it has a major role to play in junior volleyball development in this country.”
Paul agrees and says the tournament is an important barometer of the level of English talent.
“The tournament is a really good measure for us of where we’re at,” says Paul. “Some of the girls have aspirations to go over to America to further their careers and a lot of the girls look at contracts in Europe. The tournament is a chance for them to measure themselves against the other European players.”