Junior Club Membership: Why it's free

16th August 2018

Junior Club Membership: Why it's free

“I haven’t come across one person who doesn’t say get more volleyball in schools!” is the impassioned cry from Freda Bussey, Core Market non-executive director of Volleyball England.

And in answer to the call Volleyball England is making a significant step to support getting more volleyball into schools and to get more young people playing the sport across the nation. For the 2018/19 season, junior club membership is free! Any clubs with all members aged under 18 can receive their free membership from the Volleyball England website.

“Juniors are the life blood of our sport,” enthused Freda, mindful of the impact that larger numbers of young people exposed to and involved in the sport can have on the sustainability of the game at all levels. “Many schools play traditional games but we need to show people that volleyball is out there and get more junior clubs affiliated. Volleyball is the top sport for women is US universities and many of the reasons for why it is so popular are likely to translate to England.”

“And significantly, some of our enduring teams over the years have sprung from beginnings as school-based clubs such as Mallory, Boswells, Tameside and Ashcombe,” continued Freda. “These clubs have either expanded into fielding senior teams or have a track record of developing players who go on to represent top volleyball teams and attend universities to play volleyball.”

And Ashcombe is close to Freda’s heart. After starting the club as a school team in 1976 while a PE teacher, the clubs enduring commitment to junior and senior player, coach and referee development and event, courses and competitions hosting 42 years later, is testament to the force of Freda’s lifelong passion for volleyball and is a shining example of what can spring from the humble, yet equally important, beginnings of a school volleyball club.

It is from this background, that Freda is vocal about the need for engagement from school and community based junior clubs with the National Governing Body.

Currently, affiliating as a junior club with Volleyball England comes with a great package of benefits. Highlights include: dedicated support from the Volleyball England HUB team on club development, support from the HUB with club funding applications (as used by South Hants Falcons Volleyball Club to secure £6,450 for supporting the provision of volleyball to young people aged 11-18), and access to brilliant discounts and offers. As well as discounts on equipment from partners Sportset, Volleyball England have negotiated a deal which sees all members gain access to Aon Plus, a fantastic benefits scheme. Members will enjoy exclusive discounts and offers at leading brands, including leisure, entertainment, professional and travel products and services.

The board’s decision

The brain child of Adam Walker, Chair of Volleyball England, free junior club membership for the 2018/19 season has been implemented following deliberation and discussion from the Board of Directors.

Combined with listening to the membership, where feedback included a perception that Volleyball England weren’t doing enough to support or influence junior volleyball, the decision was made by the board to reduce the fee by the full £40 to generate a positive message about junior player development and engage more with junior clubs.

Echoing Freda’s passion, Adam is hopeful of the impact that free junior club membership will have on the sport. And with many schools buying ‘starter’ volleyball packs, marketed through partners such as Bishop Sports, but who are not currently affiliated with Volleyball England, there is a real platform to get these schools more involved in the game through the free club affiliation initiative.

Looking to the future

Mindful of the fact that free membership doesn’t offer schools and community based junior clubs everything that they are looking for, Freda is hopeful of the future partnership that can be forged between Volleyball England and the school and junior clubs who look to join in and get involved. “We must offer something at the end of the season and take care to tailor the membership package for school and junior clubs’ needs. Products like lesson plans and guidance on how to develop volleyball in schools could be very useful and attractive.”

Affiliating with Volleyball England will provide a platform for junior club members to share their needs with the national governing body, which in turn will allow Volleyball England to better serve those needs.

It will be a process of development but following the recent Volleyball England AGM in July, which saw the appointment of former PE teacher and current coach at Tettenhall Tigers VC, Nick Shaffery, elected to the role of Schools and Young People Lead, Freda is hopeful of what the future holds. With Nick being an advocate for junior development and an insightful contributor to the Volleyball England Level 1 Introduction to Coaching Volleyball Award, which has been well received since its launch earlier in 2018, Freda is confident of his ability to guide school and junior clubs forwards:

“Nick is just wonderful at junior development. We have coached teams on opposite sides of the court on many occasions over the years from U15 to U18 level, from this we both have a strong interest in junior development and our sons even played in the England teams together. It’s all part of being a member of the volleyball family – we all want volleyball to thrive.”

Volleyball England is listening and taking a significant step to get more schools and junior clubs affiliated for the same reason as Freda, which is as good a reason as anyone could hold – we all want volleyball to thrive.

Inspired to affiliate your school volleyball club or junior volleyball club with Volleyball England for free for 2018/19? Sign up here to get involved.

Junior Club Membership: Why it's free