A false start for us all. Back in March 2020 we had to cancel all of our activities due to the at that time new and unknown sanitary emergency.
Scottish Volleyball took this opportunity as a chance to grow, despite actual volleyball not happening because of the restrictions. Staff members and volunteers, all working from home and from different parts of the country, adapted to what is the new normal.
But how to keep volleyball going without being allowed to play? Staff members and volunteers got virtually together to develop new and exciting projects/programs to deliver during lockdown. The first three months of lockdown were focussed on the possibility to learn all things sports and volleyball online.
Scottish Volleyball made a conscious decision to invest in our volunteers and upskill them by running numerous Child Protection Course in the month of April. This led to a flurry of new members of our sport having the relevant qualifications to work with Children and understand the need of putting Young People at the forefront of everything that we do.
Working with our partners in Children 1st and sportscotland, we helped a large number of clubs update their policies in relation to the welfare of their club members with the specific focus on persons under the age of 18. For Scottish Volleyball, this is not a tick box exercise. We believe all members must live the values and objectives of what the Child Wellbeing courses taught us.
If you wish to find out some more information, please visit our website, which has a host of resources for you and your club.
Please note if you have any questions in relation to the Welfare of anyone within our sport, please contact our Lead Safeguarding Officer at the new dedicated email address here.
With our clubs located at the heart of our sport, the month of May saw us delve into some key areas of support for our volleyball clubs via a combination of online presentations and some fantastic interactive online workshops in partnership with Active Advantage. Key topics included Club Governance structures, Club Sustainability and Club Marketing.
With the support of Active Advantage, we had a deeper look into the importance of embedding a positive culture within your club and also some great ideas for club development planning and workforce development.
We have received some great feedback from this series of workshops around how they have supported clubs to find some direction, during what has been a very uncertain time for everyone.
Overall, a fantastic month for Scottish Volleyball, with the opportunity to engage directly with our clubs and their members; definitely something we will look to do again in the near future.
Scottish Volleyball launched its coach connections series in June which was an extension to our approach to online delivery. Having listened to various Scottish coaches it was clear that there was a desire and a need to provide new sources of information and learning. We generated a list of experienced coaches who we wanted to target for input. This list was very ambitious. No one could have believed how great it would be. The list of coaches was a who’s who of volleyball coaching and from all disciplines.
The month was kicked off by an incredible series from the Italian Volleyball Federation. Marco Mencarelli and Vincenzo Fanizza. Both highly experienced National team coaches and European and World championship winners.
Up next was Simon Loftus, first of two Scottish coaches on the bill. Simon is the head coach of the English National team and coached professionally in Europe. This was followed by Morph Bowes, again a Scottish Coach with and incredible journey which has led him to coach the German Beach Volleyball team.
As the month progressed, we realised quickly how important the information was and we were learning all the time. This led us to take the decision to go broadcast live on Facebook and YouTube for all the volleyball community.
Our biggest task was yet to come as on the 19th of June our most ambitious broadcast was with the four coaches form the USA Women’s National team. This was to present four key presenters one after another. We were delighted to secure Karch Kiraly, Erin Virtue, Tama Miyashiro and Luka Slabe. A four-and-a-half-hour presentation from each of these coaches ensued. This even included a technical hitch in which we temporarily lost Head Coach Karch, when his laptop ran out of battery. However, he was able to pick up after a short delay on his phone.
We closed out the month with two final presenters. The penultimate presenter was Celso Assumpcao, a professional coach from Brazil who is specialist in developing camp Volleyball. Having worked all over the world we were able to draw on his experience on how to create the perfect camp environment. At the end of his presentation, he invited our federation to send a coach out to Italy for a paid coaching experience. Due to Covid-19 most of our Scottish Coaches were prohibited from this international travel. However, we were able to assist Nico Zlatev in taking this opportunity further and Nico was able to travel to Italy from Bulgaria to be a coach at the international Volley Camp.
NCAA Women’s head coach Steve Florio was in a Zoom call. This had to be a closed group as the NCCA recruitment rules made it difficult for Steve to be broadcast live. In this call we discussed program planning, program development and a little bit about his involvement with USA sitting volleyball.
The last presenter was Joel Banks, he had an amazing journey as a player and a coach from the UK. He has coached his Belgian club Maaseik in the champions league. His story was an incredible insight into how to pursue a coaching career in coaching was an amazing way to draw the month to a close.
The aim was to provide new learning opportunities. We believe that this was achieved and as a bye product we have created links with different Federations who have opened the door for Scottish Volleyball and our coaches to continue to learn from these sources. The covid world has changed the way we work and we certainly embraced the online world through this month. We are looking forward to the post covid world where we can physically expand and enhance the learning opportunity form all these connections that have been made. We hope to be able meet these coaches face to face.
Before, during and after our online engagement, we have been working on an extensive guidance on how to “Play it Safe” and ensure that our members had good guidance to follow. We have had countless versions of our guidance published as we adapted it to every announcement made by Scottish Government regarding the current restrictions.
In August we had an amazing month in which our junior players could enjoy great beach volleyball sessions thanks to our beach volleyball clubs around the country. The kids managed to play in a regional tournament as well! This was a great achievement for the month of August, and a huge thanks goes to all the volunteers who got involved and delivered a fun and safe event for our junior players.
In September a project that had taken 7-8 months to be developed, finally came reality. We launched our new brand including a modern new logo and colour scheme. This coincided with the launch of our new Mission, Vision and Values statements.
Partnering with Scotland leading mental health charity by signing up to the mental health chapter was another big step forward for Scottish Volleyball. All our staff have now undertaken training by SAMH and ensure that mental health is an important thread in everything we do. To mark the partnership and world mental health day the staff took part in the SAMH Big stomp by collectively walking the length of Scotland to raise awareness and funds.
Despite the difficulties that the COVid 19 placed on many business and commercial partnership we were delighted to announce a new kit supplier in Zeon Teamwear. The partnership will see for the first time all national teams across beach, indoor, junior and senior be wearing matching bespoke kit on and off the field of play. The design process included extensive engagement with player repetitive and saw the playing kit being designed from scratch using the new brand as a guide.
Another important and unique partnership was announced with the University of the West of Scotland. This partnership will allow students studying a BA in sports coaching at the Ayr campus to follow our education and development pathway throughout their studies. This will improve their own career prospects and increase our qualified workforce.
Another great partnership was announced later in December just before the holidays. Scottish Volleyball is taking part in an Erasmus+ funded project together with Cresta Firm, the men’s Italian Volleyball Super League, the Croatian and Austrian volleyball federations and ISG, a Polish Institute for sports governance. This project is called Go2Volleyball and will be all about developing a stronger governance for our sport.
On this high note we come to an end of what everyone defines it as a different year! It was challenging yet rewarding at the same time. Volleyball will come out stronger and with some fantastic news for 2021! We have big expectations for the year to come and we are ready for it!
Happy New Year everyone, from Scottish Volleyball