22 Nov 2023

Club case study - Lincoln Imps: demonstrating Volleyball's inclusivity

Club case study - Lincoln Imps: demonstrating Volleyball's inclusivity

Sitting Volleyball club Lincoln Imps have partnered with the city’s University of Lincoln to deliver a pair of projects that have demonstrated the truly inclusive nature of the sport. Volleyball England explores how the projects have evolved.

A little bit about Lincoln Imps 

The club was formed in 2009 by amputees Keith Hill and Andrew Skinner with the help of Janet Inman, now Company Secretary of the Volleyball England Foundation. They were seeking an activity to compete and saw Sitting Volleyball as a great way to have fun and keep active. 

The club is now run by Ben Richards (pictured below), who joined the club around five months later after being encouraged to go along by friends. 

As well as ensuring the Imps compete in Volleyball England’s Sitting Grand Prix series, which brings together teams from across the country, he has also been keen to widen the club’s reach into its local community. 

Collaborating with the university 

The connection between the club and its local university came about after students approached Ben asking if they could get involved in order to help complete course work around disability and inclusive sport. 

One of those ran the university’s standing volleyball team wanted to come and play with the team for a while and ‘really enjoyed the experience’. 

“That’s when I was asked by one of the lecturers if he would go along and run a session for the students, so I went along with Keith to run an activator session,” said Ben. 

“We did a couple of hours with them and showed them how to play and it fitted well that they could do the activator learning and then go away in the future as teachers and coaches and be able to help deliver a session. 

“It worked very well. How Sitting Volleyball is, it is very difficult to just set up and play, so having these students learn about the movement and control before getting into a real game has helped them to gain an understanding they can now pass on to others.”


Local schools get involved 

Another part of the university students’ work was to put together a Sports Festival for local schools (11 to 16-year-olds) to attend. 

Ben was happy to go along to advise the students on how to best organise the event to maximise the enjoyment of participants and help development of basic skills. 

He said: “It was great to see what the students were able to do in two hours and the enjoyment the schools got out of it.

“They were able to get them playing a version of Sitting Volleyball pretty quickly in an activity that seemed to be valued by the pupils as well as school staff.” 

What next? 

With Sitting Volleyball still limited in scope in terms of the number of overall players and teams competing regularly, Ben is keen to help development of the sport where he can. 

He believes working with schools and existing clubs could help widen the sport’s reach – but says development must be long-term and sustainable. 

“There is no instant fix, but one of my goals for next year is to engage with sports teachers in school, teaching the sport to them, so that hopefully they can then get playing and organise some local competitions from there. 

“I also think that to go beyond the initial Sitting Grand Prix structure which is limited to a handful of teams and spread the sport further across the country, we need to involve standing clubs, because they are already established everywhere. 

“A lot of them are likely to have older players who might be interested in having a go or have people among their number who are living with a disability, so that’s an area that could be targeted. 

“Overall, I think the two biggest stigmas are that people, for whatever reason, don’t like sitting down to play – but once they do, they love it – and that people think of it, wrongly, that it is a sport only for disabled people. 

“The great thing about Sitting Volleyball is that it levels up young and old, disabled and non-disabled people so that they can come together, compete and have a good time, which is a message we want to make people more aware of.” 

Interested in sitting volleyball?

If you are interested in playing or getting involved in a sitting Vooleyball Club in any capacity, please contact, in the first instancee, Volleyball England's John Worrall via j.worrall@volleyballengland.org