The Glasgow Development Academy is a new project. It was set up in August 2007 to help revitalise Volleyball in Glasgow, through setting up a Youth Development project within the City. The Academy is based in the Kelvinhall and has two sessions per week which are targeted at primary and secondary school kids. The project was fully supported by the three senior Clubs in Glasgow, who all provided help in various forms.
The aim of the Academy is to help develop the basic volleyball skills of the kids who sign up, and provide a development pathway linking school volleyball to club volleyball. The Academy has close links with the three Glasgow clubs; Glasgow Mets, Su Ragazzi and Glasgow International with the intention of the Academy being a feeder of new players for the Clubs.
Another main focus of the Academy is Coach development. The clear policy is to have young coaches coaching young players with a mentoring programme established to provide support and development opportunities for the Coaches. It works. The Academy coaches include Jillian Galloway and Carly McKinlay from Glasgow Mets, Kevin Curran from Su Ragazzi and Malcolm McLean from Glasgow International. The Coaches plan and deliver the sessions, taking ‘turns’ at being ‘in charge’. The mentoring programme is run by Thomas Dowens; the National Director of Coaching.
Jillian, Carly and Malcolm began their coaching career in 2006 when they participated in the SVA Easter School and completed their Teachers Part 1 coaching qualification. Since then have worked on developing their skills and understanding of the coaching process through participating in a range of opportunities; with the UK school games, their clubs, and with Malcolm assisting with the Senior Women’s National Team Programme.
Both Jillian and Malcolm have gone on to complete their Teachers Part 2 award, with Jillian using the Academy sessions to help her complete her compulsory practical project. Carly and Kevin both work for Glasgow City council delivering volleyball sessions within primary and secondary schools and have used this as an opportunity to promote the Academy, which brings in new players. This vast array of experience on offer allows the coaching staff to create a positive learning environment to maximise player development.
The Academy sessions free of charge for any child attending a primary or secondary school within the Glasgow area. The schools were all contacted via letter or email inviting them to nominate anyone interested in playing volleyball. In addition the Academy sessions are promoted during school coaching sessions, volleyball festivals and within the Kelvinhall itself. Recently the Academy has welcomed a large number of Polish children to the Thursday evening sessions. The new players have integrated very well and obviously enjoy the session. They are well supported by their enthusiastic parents who come along to watch the sessions and offer encouragement to all. The Academy is funded by Glasgow City council who cover all hall lets, coaching expenses, and even provide t-shirts for the players.
Within a short period of time the Academy has become a strong and positive feature of volleyball in Glasgow. It has been hugely successful in the development of the coaches, and has also seen all three senior clubs benefit from an influx of new players who were ‘discovered’ by the Academy.
One of the first successes for the Academy was 17 year old Umair. He started playing recreational volleyball at Hillhead High School. He liked the sport, and wanted to do more, so he went to the Academy sessions at the Kelvin Hall. A year later he joined the Summer Programme at Su Ragazzi. He is now firmly established as a key member of the men’s second team, and is making great progress as a young setter.
Glasgow Mets who already have in place a large and successful junior programme have recently welcomed some Academy players into their set up. These are now enjoying training twice a week and hope to progress on through the club.
Glasgow International have also benefited with the addition of Michaelina to their top ranked women’s 2nd division side. Michaelina is 14 years old, is from Poland, is full of great fun and smiles, and represents exactly what we hoped the Academy would achieve when we set it up. Although Michaelina receives regular court time with Malcolm’s team she continues to attend the Academy sessions to ensure she keeps developing as a player – that’s dedication. In addition to all of this the Academy’s primary school section has also been successful with regular attendance allowing some teams to be entered into this year’s Cardinal Cup.
As already mentioned the Academy has seen many successes on a coaching and player development front. The coaching staff have high hopes of continuing this success in the future with the aim of developing even more players who can successfully integrate into the three main Glasgow clubs. We are confident this will be achieved through the continual hard work and enthusiasm of coaches and players alike.