HEVO Programme evolving to help grow volleyball community

30th August 2018

HEVO Programme evolving to help grow volleyball community

It’s only two weeks until the Higher Education Volleyball Officer (HEVO) conference, which will mark the start of the eighth year of the flagship scheme to increase participation in volleyball. More importantly, it will see the programme developed even further to have a bigger impact on the sport in this country.

Over the last eight years, the programme has seen students take up roles as HEVOs at their universities and put on recreational volleyball sessions for fellow students. With an emphasis on having fun, the HEVOs deliver weekly sessions for players of all abilities, from beginners who have never played before to people who play regularly but want to join in with a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

Into the wider volleyball community

In the first year of the programme, 29 universities took part but growing from strength to strength, a record 71 universities had HEVOs across the 2017/18 academic year, displaying the popularity of the programme. The impact of the work these volunteers do is huge - last year alone saw over 5,500 players take part in recreational volleyball sessions thanks to the quality and commitment of the HEVOs. Testament to the value of the programme, it is backed by Sport England, who see the impact it has in getting people active.

Now, the programme is embarking on its next step, which is to transition those involved in the HEVO programme into the wider volleyball community. From this year, the HEVO Transitions programme will be in place which aims to encourage HEVOs and participants to stay engaged in the sport after leaving university, whether that is through setting up new clubs, getting involved in established teams or volunteering.

Creating a clear pathway from the programme to the wider volleyball community, HEVOs who leave university will be offered resources and opportunities to stay in the sport. At the HEVO conference, on the weekend of 15th and 16th September where students will be trained in how to deliver recreational volleyball sessions, the transitions part of the scheme will be presented and promoted to the 2018/19 cohort of HEVOs. The transitions programme will also be targeting HEVOs from the last seven years of the scheme too and encouraging them to be involved in volleyball. If there are any former HEVOs who are interested in attending the Transitions Conference which is on the Saturday of the weekend, they can register to attend by clicking this link. 

The design of the HEVO Transitions programme has been underpinned by research from the 400 HEVOs from the last seven years. The study found that 90% of HEVOs are still involved as players, 47% are still active as coaches and 30% volunteer in volleyball. Leaving university can be a big transition for students and despite many of the students having the desire to set up a volleyball club, many factors can affect their time and confidence to do so - the Transitions Programme aims to overcome that. 

One standout example of a HEVO moving into the wider volleyball community is Niren Hirani. After expressing an interest to continuing to work in volleyball after finishing being a HEVO at university, he was approached by the Chairman of the London Volleyball Association to be the Second Competition Director in the 2018 London Youth Games. After managing the role brilliantly, and even being asked to be the medal presenter at the Games, his journey into the sport has lead him to becoming a regional administrator for the London Volleyball Association. And to think it all started with being a HEVO! Now, the aim with the new HEVO Transitions project is to get more young people to follow a similar journey to Niren.

Being a HEVO

The HEVOs do invaluable work for the sport and it is a great opportunity for their own development too.  Sarah Booth was a HEVO at De Montfort University, Leicester, and says as well as giving back to the sport, taking up the role has helped her to develop her own skills.

I was a volleyball player to begin with, playing for my university club,” says Sarah. “On top of that I was also a Level 1 coach, so when I got asked by my university to be a HEVO I happily stepped up to the role. The sessions gave me a chance to let people play in a nice relaxed atmosphere at a recreational level, which I enjoyed.

“For me personally, leadership is one of the biggest advantages of being HEVO. I feel like this role helped me with my leadership and confidence, especially because I was faced with standing up in front of a group of people and leading the session from the very beginning ‘till the end.

Continuing her journey, this year Sarah will be stepping up to the role of Senior HEVO, which will entail mentoring responsibilities, as well as developing and utilising more organisational and management skills. Senior HEVOs support HEVOs throughout the year, helping them get their sessions running, resolving any issues, helping organise any events the students choose to do or giving advice on how to improve. As an established part of the local volleyball community, Sarah is also well-placed to speak to HEVOs about the opportunities there are to remain in volleyball after leaving university.

On 15th and 16th September at the HEVO conference, the new generation of HEVOs are sure to have a great time. As well as learning how to organise and manage their sessions, there will be lots of practical training exercises and have-a-go sessions they can replicate at university. For some it may be the start of a long-term passion for volleyball….the countdown to the HEVO conference is on!

HEVO Programme evolving to help grow volleyball community