East Mids juniors take on Buenos Aires schoolchildren
27th January 2020
International volleyball matches were played between the youth sides of 5 East Midlands clubs and pupils from Belgrano Day School, Argentina, during its tour of Europe.
Juniors from Ashfield Vipers, Belper Hammers, Darkstar Derbyshire, Loughborough Academy, and Nottingham Rockets – as well as players from Tresham College, Kettering – fed into the East Midlands side for friendly matches against the Buenos Aires youngsters.
On 13th January, 50 girls played matches at Derby Moor Academy and on 22nd January, 80 boys took to the courts at Loughborough College.
Helen Britten, a coach at Darkstar, organised the competition after receiving an email out of the blue from a teacher at Belgrano Day School.
The school had plans to visit Bath, Chester, London, and Loughborough on the English leg of its overseas trip and was looking to arrange a few sporting events en route.
With her interest piqued, Helen worked closely with Ian Clews and Gemma McDougall, of Ashfield Vipers, and Bertrand Olie, of Loughborough Academy, to seize this special opportunity to face juniors from one of the best volleyball-playing nations in the world.
Helen said: “After speaking with other coaches, we decided it would be good to offer this fantastic opportunity for young players in the East Midlands.
“The kids really enjoyed it. I think parents were pleased that their children had the opportunity to see players from a different country, a different culture. There was a great atmosphere between the players, coaches, and staff too – everybody got on great.
“Considering all arrangements were made via email, without a lot of information about the players' levels and abilities, the teams were very well matched. The visitors from Buenos Aires were a joy to play against and the atmosphere was fantastic, especially during the boys’ final.
“The East Midlands young players displayed some excellent volleyball skills on and off the court and enjoyed the competitive yet fun element of both events.”
While the girls’ competition concentrated on playtime, the boys were split into two groups based on age and experience.
In the boys’ final, East Midlands U17 beat Belgrano A 2 sets to 1 in a close contest, but there were smiles all round as the youngsters took home souvenirs, including Darkstar and Vipers stickers and Volleyball England branded net bands.