College Volleyball in European
Success can be measured in many ways. To some, winning titles or medals is the only method to determine the level of that success. However, a sense of achievement, recognition and development can outweigh any other determinants of a successful outcome.
2014 has already been a successful year for Volleyball Wales following the inclusion of two junior teams into the final rounds of the European Championships (Small Countries Division) for the first time since forming only 5 years ago. The U20′s Boys team began the European challenge in Luxembourg, lead by award winning Head Coach, Jose Castro, supported by Assistant Coach Charlotte James and Team Manager Mark Perkins. Tough competition from hosts Luxembourg, as well as two countries closer to home, Northern Ireland and Scotland, made up the final four teams.
The U19 Girls team had further to travel for their competition, ending up in San Marino. As well as the hosts, the Welsh girls had to face Scotland, Luxembourg and Lichtenstein in their battle in Europe. Head Coach Sandra Stoll was assisted by Jack Allman, with Kath Lewis as the Team Manager. A young squad of 11 girls aged between 14 – 18 set off to San Marino at 3.00am to face the unknown competitors.
Both Welsh teams had previously performed at the Sainsbury’s School Games and many of the players had recently taken part in the British Colleges finals in Bath where they finished third overall, which was all part of their training for the Europeans. The full squads had also been taking part in some intensive training camps to complete the build up to the main event supported by Staff and Students at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Dr Lucy Blackbourn managed the medical screening and anti doping sessions whilst Andy Kelly was the physio dealing with minor injuries over recent months. Supported also by a team of massage students and a psychologist, the teams were as prepared as possible.
Both teams were the unknown quantity within the competition. It was a totally new opportunity for the players, but it was also the first time that the coaching teams had been a involved at this level. A lot of work prior to the tournament had taken place, but there were still lots of areas that were previously untested in competition. Many of these areas were tested at the Preliminary Enquiry and Technical Meetings under the watchful eye of the CEV Technical Delegate for each competition. Wales managed to pass these and were then able to focus on the competition itself.
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