“FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME”….that is the phrase that springs to mind when I think of my latest “Meet me at the Net” visit to Volero Volleyball club.
Volero Volleyball Club are a recreational team based in North Lanarkshire and are made up from a variety of different backgrounds. Their team line up from Saturday was like a “who’s who” of Scottish Volleyball Legends such as Barry Robertson, Tam Kerr and Fraser Morton all of whom are ex international players all strutting their stuff ably assisted by others with considerable National League experience such as Derek Halbert, Allan Duncanson, Jim Berryman and Douglas Macab.
The team train every Wednesday at Braidhurst High School in Motherwell. Even allowing for the relatively high average age (sorry Barry!) every Wednesday is highly competitive, everyone trains hard but most importantly they all have a laugh and thoroughly enjoy each others company and camaraderie. During the summer months, the team continue to play in a unique venue…a lawn on Barry Robertson’s estate!! A volleyball court is set up on the grass every Wednesday night and all the players make their way for some volleyball and socialising.
Before the Match I caught up with Jim Berryman, Volero’s Club Administrator and he provided me with the answers to my various questions:
1. What strengths do you think your club has?
What we do suits us, we have a group of lifelong volleyball players who all want to play every week, to as high a standard as we can and to not give up the sport we love just because we don’t play in a league any more. We are very committed to our weekly training sessions and occasional matches. Because we don’t often compete with others we do really appreciate the matches we do have and try to make the most of them.
2. Where do you see any weaknesses in your club?
We are not the youngest squad and have lost several players due to injury in the last couple of seasons (and have another two men down today!). So there have been periods when our numbers have been dangerously low, but we have soldiered on. Our long-term sustainability is an issue but we’ve had a recent influx of players so things look good at present.
3. What do you as a club do well?
Enjoy our sport and have fun doing it, we have a lot of laughs as well as a healthy degree of competitiveness. The atmosphere in our hall is always good. We are good opposition and tend to give every team we play against a decent game. Today’s match against Kilmarnock II was a good quality one that was fairly tight, to then find out that we have done well enough in the early rounds of the cup to qualify for the 4th Round is another step forward.
4. What more do you think the SVA Office could do for you?
Not a lot, we are well looked after.
4.a How do we do it? Efficiently and always with good nature.
4.b Ideas? Together we could maybe do more and use our enthusiasm and experience at District level.
5. Do you have a Junior Programme? No.
6. Do you have contact with local feeder schools? No.
7. Do you have a structured programme for developing Officials and Coaches? No.
8. Do you ever run Tournaments? No, but are happy to accept invitations.
9. Do you have beach players? / Beach section? Yes, he’s called Barry.
10. Do you have Sitting Volleyball? Do you plan to have Sitting Volleyball? No.
11. Are you aware of the SVA Grant Scheme? We will look into this, but had assumed it’s not applicable to us as a “recreational” club with only adult members.
The club have entered the Scottish Cup for the past 5 years and this year joined forces with Glasgow International Ladies to support each others efforts and also provide officials etc for the other games. Malcolm Mclean who is the coach for the Glasgow International Ladies even stepped up on Saturday to coach the Volero men’s team. The profile match was played at Smithycroft High School in Glasgow and this round saw Volero getting a tough draw and had to face Kilmarnock II who remain unbeaten at the top of the Men’s 2nd division. The match did not start the way everyone was expecting and the first set saw Volero leading throughout until the very last point at 27-26 to Kilmarnock, the ball was set up nicely for Allan Duncanson only to see him jump and land rather awkwardly..Set 1 28-26 to Kilmarnock and end of the road for Allan. Volero refocused for the 2nd set but it was Kilmarnock who took the initiative this time round and took the set 25-19. Unfortunately during this set the substitution for Allan, Lukasz Adamczak also was injured and had to be carried off to the side of the court. Kilmarnock continued to dominate the match and were eventual 3 sets to 0 winners taking the 3rd set 25-18 but great credit must go to Volero for their fighting spirit. They were knocked down not only once but twice with injury and continued to battle hard.
After discussion with Coach Mclean it was decided to give the OAP..I mean MVP to Barry Robertson (only kidding Barry). Barry turned back the clock to play middle blocker. At 54 years old, Barry still plays like someone half his age and his backcourt ability is as good as anyone at the top of the National League.
The overriding memory I have of Saturday was of a group of guys who simply love playing volleyball. They may be slower and not as high as in their prime, but their commitment, competitiveness and desire to win was still very much evident for all to see.
As a model for other clubs looking to retain older players or for recreational players, the Volero Club is an excellent role model.
After the game I headed off to the local pub with both teams and spent a very pleasurable hour or two chewing the fat over the game. My thanks to all at Volero Volleyball Club for making me feel so welcome but especially to Jim Berryman for his continued support and enthusiasm for my “Meet me at the Net” project.