The men’s 1st division provided the feature match for my “Meet me at the Net” visit for the 1st time this season. The old rivals of City of Glasgow Ragazzi and Kilmarnock clashed at Coltness High School. Between them these 2 club’s have dominated the men’s 1st Division since the early 90’s.
Su Ragazzi Volleyball Club celebrated their 25th Anniversary in the summer this year. The club has grown in this period from a 1 team District League club into one of the biggest clubs in Scotland. I joined Su Ragazzi in 1995 when a women’s section was formed who did the “Old Ted Rodgers” … 3, 2, 1 (ask your parents if you don’t understand!!). The Club has continually developed numerous players for Scottish and GB National Teams and currently ex players Lynne Beattie, Mark McGivern and Chris Lamont are currently earning a living playing professionally for clubs throughout Europe. The downside , if there is one, is that the club has to fill in the gaps left behind and for the last 2 years the club has been in a rebuilding phase in line with the SVA’s Strategic Plan.
The match itself was highly competitive and the scene was set for an exciting game. There were actions shots of the players on the walls surrounding the court, the music system was pumping out some good tunes and Laura McReady from the Women’s team stepped up and became the announcer for the match and introduced the players onto court. Su Ragazzi started the match well and took the 1st set 25-18. Kilmarnock fought back in the 2nd to take it 25-21. Su Ragazzi stepped up their play and won the 3rd and 4th set 25-17, 25-22.
Tommy Dowens (Su Ragazzi Coach) said “We have shown improvement from the start of the season. Kilmarnock were significantly better than they were when they played in the Dynamo Cup back in Sept due to the great job Gordon Welsh and Stuart Edgar are doing in rebuilding the 1st team”.
Gordon Welsh (Kilmarnock) said “We competed in the first two sets but the experience of Su Ragazzi was too much for our younger players, however I thought both Mark Lawson (15 years old) and Stuart Caldwell (18 years old) played extremely well and are great prospects for the future …. and by the way the banana and toffee muffins were brilliant!!
Johnny Herley from City of Glasgow Ragazzi was voted the MVP, coach Dowens commented that Johnny excelled in all areas of the game on Saturday.
Michael McConville, Club Administrator of Su Ragazzi was my host for the day and Jim Berryman, Vice Chairman of the Scottish Volleyball Association was also there to add his support and expertise. Some of the questions I asked Michael were:
Q. Where do you see your strengths lie within your club?
A. The club has a good reputation and club identity. We have a commitment to excellence and we also have good organisation.
Q. What do you mean by good organisation?
A. We have a strong committee with representation from every team and also some non players for example John Galloway who is Ally and Cammy’s dad. We also have good social and fundraising activities throughout the season and last year between running an X Factor night, The Player of the Year and the women’s teams doing some cheerleading we managed to raise over £1000.00.
Q. Where do you see the weaknesses in your club?
A. We had no Junior Section
Q. What steps are you taking to address this?
A. This season we have entered 2 teams in to the Junior National League, 1 girls U19 and 1 boys U16.
Q. What do you as a club do well?
A. We have a strong player development programme, a good coaching structure and we have a range of qualified referees to share the officiating duties.
Q. Can you describe the coaching structure within the club?
A. At the moment we have three coaches involved in the Glasgow City Council mentoring scheme which is a formal programme including practice sessions and matches mentored by Tommy Dowens.
Q. Do you run any tournaments?
A. The club have regularly hosted and competed in European events during the 1990’s and has formed strong links with other clubs throughout Europe. Last season we ran 2 post season and 2 pre season tournaments.
My conclusion for the day is that Su Ragazzi are taking the necessary steps to ensure another 25 years of success. As per my other visits the main asset the club has is the quality of the people in it.
My thanks go to Su Ragazzi for their hospitality and also a huge thanks to Jim Berryman for his continued support and guidance to my project. Finally to Lynne Marshall for assisting on the day and supplying the usual excellent pics.
Club and Participation Development Manager