“Bigger, Better and Stronger” was clearly in evidence as I picked up my “Meet me at the Net” project with Su Ragazzi Volleyball Club on Saturday 28th January 2012. It seems like only yesterday that I made my first visit to Su Ragazzi but in fact it was October 2009 and the club have been actively working in a number of key areas to ensure not only their short term future but also building strong foundations for growth in the longer term.
Since my last visit, the club have put a real focus on creating a stronger environment that caters better for junior players. Links were created with a variety of schools, players identified and recruited, coaches appointed, sessions held and from this the bold steps of entering 2 teams into the Junior National League was taken.
With the Junior National League teams up and running, the challenge for the club was how to try and integrate these new teams into the senior National League structure. At the same time, the club moved training venue to the fabulous new sports facility at Drumoyne supported by Glasgow City Council. A club policy decision was taken to lower the age profile of the teams and whilst recognising that this might make success in the short term less likely, it would create a stronger long term future. Some players were lost through the natural turnover of players that all clubs experience and the available positions were filled by the younger players. The junior players are required to sign up to attending a minimum number of sessions per week to ensure that they have sufficient training volume to develop as players. There has been a huge commitment to this shown not only by the players but also by their parents who bring them to training week in week out and also by supporting them from the side on a match day.
ONE TO WATCH:
Name: Mhairi Agnew
School: Belmont House School Glasgow
Honours: UK School Games Scotland West
Scotland Junior Women
Hand in hand with the focus on junior recruitment has been 2 additional features; the administration management of the club and also recruitment of additional coaches. Club Administrator Michael McConville, despite working in Bristol, has continued to do a huge amount of work in the background, accessing the latest information from the SVA website ensuring that all members are kept up to date and informed of all events within the club. The increased number of teams run by the club requires additional coaching support. A policy of identifying and supporting new coaches is an integral part of the clubs targets over the next few years. The club are planning to hold a UKCC Level 1 coaching course over the next few months to assist with this as well as mentoring and other support for those taking their first steps in the coaching process.
Since my last visit the club have also been successful in an application to the Sport for All Award Scheme. This was an intensive process with various criteria to be met and reports to be submitted, but is certainly an avenue for fundraising that other clubs in Scotland should consider. The club also takes part in a weekly bonus ball run by Dave Cormie from Su Ragazzi II and they also made a huge amount of money from Gillian Galloway’s Xmas Hamper Raffle.
This brings me to the feature match of the day which was Su Ragazzi v City of Edinburgh in the men’s 1st division. Both teams came out fighting from the first whistle and what followed was a lesson on power, tactics and the will to win. Throughout the first set it was nip and tuck with some great blocking from Su Ragazzi’s Tunyi Abongeh and Fraser Strachan but Jonathan Herley took to the service line and finished the set 25-20 to Su Ragazzi. Set 2 was a turn around of events and City of Edinburgh came out of the starting blocks first and took an impressive 20-11 lead with some great power hitting from Niall Collin backed up with impressive defending from Michael Penny. The set finished 25-20 to City of Edinburgh. All square and a fierce battle was to follow. Su Ragazzi got off to a flyer and led 16-11 but powerful serving from Jamie McHardy let City of Edinburgh back in and set 3 finally finished 31-29 to City of Edinburgh. The 4th set was again well contested. Great defence again from Michael Penny and strong attacking from Simon Hammond saw Game, Set and Match to City of Edinburgh 25-21.
The match was a great advert for Scottish Volleyball. Fiercely contested in good spirit and ably controlled by 1st referee Laura McCready and 2nd Referee Gillian Galloway. MVP for Su Ragazzi was awarded to Tunyi Abongeh. Tunyi is a PHD student at Glasgow University and has only been playing 1st division volleyball since Jan 2011. He demonstrated natural athletisism, tactical awareness and always plays the game with a smile on his face!!
All in all my day with Su Ragazzi Volleyball club left me in no doubt that his club can only build on the success they have had in past years. My thanks to everyone for making the day a most enjoyable one. For further information on Su Ragazzi Volleyball please contract either myself or Michael McConville Michael@volleyballphotos.co.uk