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October/November 2013

Volleyball on the rise

Volleyball is showing good growth at school level, where it is a priority sporting code. But what is being done to grow the sport further? asked RHIANAH FREDERICKS.

Volleyball is one of the priority school sports played at primary and high school level. The sport therefore does well at school level, where it is played by boys and girls in all provinces.

It has shown good growth, says Deva Moodliar, Schools Director of Volleyball South Africa (VSA). “The participation growth was evident in the first year of the Top Schools competition — hosted for the first time last year by Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) — where all nine provinces participated in the volleyball events.

“Volleyball has been one of the best organised codes of sport at school level for the past two decades,” claims Ismail Teladia, president of the SA Schools Volleyball Association. He says the sport is growing at school level and beyond, despite receiving less media coverage than more prominent sporting codes. “Volleyball is played in every nook and cranny across South Africa,” he says.

It is inexpensive to play and the growth can further be attributed to the fact that volleyball is one of the codes that should be played as part of the physical education programme in all grades, he adds.

Formal structures in place

All provinces participate in the schools volleyball programme, which is a shared responsibility between SRSA, the Department of Education and the federations, says Moodliar.

All schools are required to register and participate in inter-school leagues in their circuits and districts. There are approximately 9 689 schools that have registered to take part in volleyball leagues this year, says Teladia. This is 8% up from the 8 996 schools that registered in 2012.

He believes that this increase in league participation is the result of a greater focus on league structures throughout the country. Interest has been sparked by competitions such as the Top Schools championships, he says. The fact that schools can now aspire to take part in team events at a national level, may also have had an impact on participation in the sport.

“Our Top Schools champions represent the country at the ISF Schools World Cup held every two years in different countries around the world,” he says.

The increase in schools participating in leagues is positive news for retailers, as this means that close to 10 000 schools will be buying at least one set of volleyball team wear — more often several sets.

Volleyball participation has also been growing beyond school, says Moodliar. There are various development programmes in place to help grow the sport.

There is also a focus on developing long term participation with the aim of keeping players in the game for as long as possible, he says.

Also, since all provinces have clubs where players can play once they leave school he believes there is no reason for interest in the sport to decline after players leave school.

“Many tertiary institutions have volleyball clubs and many students join these,” he says.

Provinces like Limpopo, Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal, Western Cape and Free State have the strongest league participation numbers.

There are also events that take place outside of the regular leagues and competitions, say Moodliar and Teladia. “Many players take part in social events, inter-department games, and games within districts,” says Moodliar.

Beach volleyball

“Don't forget about beach volleyball. Regular competitions are held around the country,” reminds Teladia. In 2012, Grant Goldsmith and Freedom Chiya represented South Africa at the London Olympics in beach volleyball.

This year VSA will host the World Series Open Championships for Beach Volleyball in Durban (11-15 December). This is not the first beach volleyball event to take place in South Africa. VSA has hosted four national beach volleyball events already and the next is scheduled for Durban just before the World Series event.

Any event like this, especially an international event, will create interest in the sport, and may lead to growth in participation for the sport, says Moodliar.

Challenges to growth

Although participation has grown over the past few years, there have been challenges to growing the sport.

Many schools still ofer no sport or physical education, says Moodliar. Most schools do not have sufficiently trained personnel to allow the training and teaching of children outside of teaching time. Many schools lack sufficient funding to purchase the necessary, as well as correct, equipment for the sport. Learners cannot participate in a game if there are no nets or balls to play with.

“The cost of travelling to play inter-school leagues is another problem,” he says. This results in many leagues collapsing and ultimately a decline in overall growth of the sport.

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