Growing the game

16th September 2017

Growing the game

This weekend, a record number of 80 students will be taking part in a fun-filled, action-packed conference as they prepare to take recreational volleyball into universities in England.

The Higher Education Volleyball Officer conference takes place on the 23rd and 24th September and provides the students with advice and training as they take up official roles which will see them help increase participation in the sport. 

Each student will be a Higher Education Volleyball Officer (HEVO) at their university for the 2017-2018 academic year. The HEVOs will run weekly recreational volleyball sessions across their 70 universities, which are separate to competitive university teams, as an enjoyable and sociable way for fellow students to play volleyball, regardless of their ability.

The conference, which takes place at the National Volleyball Centre in Kettering, will give each new HEVO training and inspiration to develop their individual projects, including advice on how to organise, promote and deliver recreational volleyball at their university. Each HEVO also receives a grant of £150-£300 to buy equipment, as well as Volleyball England branded hoodies and polo shirts. The weekend has a real emphasis on fun too. Feedback from last year’s conference was overwhelmingly positive – discover what the previous generation of HEVOs had to say about it, including this ringing endorsement: would recommend it 110% to any future HEVO’s.”

“The HEVO conference is a fantastic experience and I’m really looking forward to meeting the new cohort of students,” said Rob Payne, Core Market Coordinator at Volleyball England. “It’s great to have 80+ like-minded individuals coming together to become ambassadors representing volleyball across the country. From helping the students to market and promote their sessions, to giving them a chance to try out drills and volleyball games, including a fun UV volleyball night on the Saturday, we pack the weekend to equip the HEVOs with knowledge, resources and kit to deliver volleyball in their universities.”

A flagship programme

This will be the seventh year of the HEVO initiative, which has become Volleyball England’s (VE) flagship project to increase volleyball participation and the model for the scheme has been emulated by other sports. While VE‘s latest funding from Sport England requires a focus on the core market – those people who are already regularly playing volleyball –  the HEVO scheme received separate Sport England funding to keep encouraging more people into volleyball, which is testament to the programme’s success.

As well as providing regular volleyball sessions, HEVOs are required to report participation figures to VE and also develop two students as officials through the Grade 4 Referee Course. The stats from last year reveal just how much the HEVOs do to grow the game. On average, 50 players took part in each HEVO session every week and over a third (37%) went on to represent their university. Perhaps most promising of all, over three quarters of all HEVO players said they want to keep playing volleyball after they leaving university, and many also showed an interest in offering more to the sport through refereeing, coaching and volunteering.

The HEVOs will be supported throughout the year by VE, as well as by Senior HEVOs who will act as mentors and will get to know the new generation of volleyball ambassadors at the next weekend’s conference.

If you are a student and are interested in becoming a HEVO at your university, it’s not too late. Email Rob Payne at for more information about becoming part of the scheme.

We’ll be counting down to the HEVO conference on our social media. Follow us and see some of the exciting things the HEVOs will be getting up to.  

Growing the game