Could open sessions be the way to develop your junior club?
17th October 2018
Developing the next generation of volleyball players and enthusiasts is high on the agenda right now.
One of the first things Nick Shaffery did in his role as the new Children and Young People Working Group Lead, was to organise a Junior Network Development Conference to bring together people to help drive opportunities for young people in the sport.
There are many teams, clubs and regions doing lots of great things to help build young people’s passion for volleyball. The aim is to share experience and best practice to build a new landscape for junior volleyball.
One club that is successfully encouraging children to take up volleyball is Little Giants Volleyball, based in Clapham, London. The club runs introductory sessions to volleyball which are open to any girls and boys between the ages of eight and 17. Running sessions which are open to such a wide range of children may seem like an unusual approach to some, but Little Giants have found it invaluable at developing their club.
Little Giants recently started a new programme of the introductory sessions in Clapham and Lambeth and 25 young players took the chance to try volleyball.
“Ninety percent of children who come along are first timers to volleyball,” explained Cisel Ormanci, Little Giants club secretary. “We’ve attracted lot of kids who want to try the sport. They learn how to play volleyball and make their first efforts to master the skills of the sport in a fun environment. We have lots of different nationalities and many of these are a good level as they have been watching volleyball on TV.
“There is still room for more children to come along too. So if any parents are interested in bringing their children along, they can find out more from our website.”
The sessions run on Saturday and Sunday mornings with a level two qualified coach. Having such a mix of abilities and ages doesn’t cause any problems putting on sessions which appeal to all the children.
“The way it works is that at in the beginning of the session, all the kids warm up together,” explained Cisel. “When it comes to drills and games the group will be split into two based on height and age. The parents will then get involved by taking one group, while the coach will take the other group. It works really well and the parents enjoy it too. Having a mix of genders and ages has never been a problem, in fact, it has made it a lot of fun.”
Cisel believes that the fact the sessions are labelled as ‘introductory’ is key to encouraging so many youngsters to come along.
“Having the session branded as introductory is really important,” she says. “Parents want their children to come to a proper club and be educated by a qualified coach. Often parents and kids can be intimidated by the idea of trials but there is no such thing at these sessions. Children can take part, see if they enjoy it and are welcome to keep coming back.
“In November, there will be separate session for girls and boys as the club looks to develop teams for the London Junior Grand Prix season and players can advance to this and try out for the teams. So there is that pathway for the players to develop but whatever happens, they are always welcome to the introductory sessions.”
Being open to more children also has a practical benefit in that it ensures there are enough players coming along to cover the costs of putting sessions on. So their approach is helping the Little Giants introductory sessions be more sustainable, as well as bringing more young people into the club.
Cisel believe that there is an appetite for kids to play volleyball and that getting the word out that there are opportunities will see more children taking up the sport.
“Kids will definitely play volleyball if they know how to get started,” says Cisel. “We have some children who have been turned away by other clubs as there is not the room for them to take any more players. We do a lot of advertising to spread the word.
“It is also important that parents are looked after too. We find the parents enjoy the introductory sessions which really helps to encourage the youngsters to keep coming back.”
Perhaps your club runs introductory sessions that are open to mixes of ages and abilities. Or maybe it is something your club could consider? As the future of clubs and the sport, seeing more young people take up volleyball is always a good thing!
The Little Giants Introductory Volleyball Sessions are open to all abilities. There is a mixed group of 8 to 17 year olds at Caius House Youth Centre every Saturday morning from 11am to 12.30pm and at Clapham Leisure Centre, every Sunday morning from 9.30am to 11am. The club is soon looking to establish their junior boys and girls teams to compete in London Grand Prix series. For more information visit https://www.volleyballevents.org/juniorvolleyball