As we embark on another exciting year for Irish Volleyball, it’s a good time to take a step back and review the achievements of 2019. As you can see from the summary below, the work has been vast, varied and in some cases pretty historic.
It really has been a great year as we hosted an Olympic Qualifier in Beach Volleyball, entered three CEV Zonal competitions and established a progressive twinning project with our new friends in Narbonne. We also launched a brand new u16 Girls league. As always, these results are down to the hard work and vision of Volleyball volunteers, commissions, clubs and coaches across the country.
We also spent a lot of time fine tuning a new Constitution and Articles of Association for the organisation. Whilst for many, this isn’t the most glamorous part of Volleyball it is really important in helping lay strong foundations for the future, ensuring our governance is fit for purpose.
Participation is increasing across the sport, with numbers playing in recreational events almost doubling on last year. We also welcomed two new clubs to the National League with the Spartans and Smashers from Kilkenny and Longford joining the family.
A really positive part of the year has been the progress of our National teams with the Snr Women’s team finishing 5th in the Small Countries Association Competition, whilst our u16 Girls played in both the Faroe Islands (beating Iceland) and then as an u17 team in Denmark. They also went to Italy for a training camp where they came up against some of the best junior players in Europe from Italy, Russia and Slovenia. The hard work that these girls and their coaches have put in has been inspiring.
The boys are making great progress with an innovative twinning project with the professional club of Narbonne, France providing super opportunities for the lads to experience a top level environment. The u20 finished third in the Flying Scots Tournament and will compete this Spring in Luxembourg full of confidence.
One my favourite events of 2019 was the ‘Friendship’ tournament held in Gormanston that included teams from across Ireland, NIR and Denmark. This was a great success and the concept will grow in 2020. The idea is that it provides a ‘taste’ of what Intl events are like.
We have seen an increase in grants coming into the sport with success acquiring sports capital funds, support from the Olympic Federation and of course continued help from Sport Ireland and the CEV. We also attracted several new sponsors for our teams and competitions including Eddie Rockets, Wed Consulting, O’Driscoll O’neill Insurance and Meath CoCo. This shows our funders see real value in our vision to create opportunities for everyone in Volleyball to reach their potential.
We were delighted that Vinnie Dos Santos was recently selected to attend the FIVB Intl Referees course in Turkey. This experience will help us train and up skill more officials here in Ireland. Vinnie has visited four countries in 2019 through Volleyball – it really demonstrates that there is a pathway for referees to progress.
We are determined to support our coaches as well, with the launch of the Masterclass series that will provide continuous training and education. Later this month we will have details of another addition to this programme.
Away from the court we have introduced an online registration system which will make life easier for players to register and for club secretaries to administer. This was a big project and we hope it will be a useful tool for you for future years.
We’ve increased our social media work this year, publishing a lot more content of a better quality across different platforms. Please share our facebook, twitter, instagram, youtube and linkedin pages and of course the Monster Block newsletter to your friends and colleagues, it will help us share the great stuff that you’re doing.
Listening to and learning from our members is of key importance to Volleyball Ireland, and in Spring we introduced a stakeholder survey that has given us a range of great ideas to improve what we do. You’ll be seeing some of these in action later this year. In the meantime, if anyone has any feedback or ideas to help us improve, or you want to get involved in a voluntary capacity, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Thank you again for all you have contributed to Volleyball in the last twelve months. Let’s have another great year.
Best Wishes and Happy New Year.