A while back I posted on a new effort from Volleyball England. The announced the creation of what they are calling senior academies at a group of English universities. I received an email in response to that post from the head of the V.E. coaching commission, Richard Harrisson. It was in response to that post. I thought it worth sharing to provide a bit of context for how things developed.
Volleyball England thinking
In the past we had male and female adult development squads each with a professional coach based at Hallam University (Sheffield) for men and at Loughborough University for women. Many of these players became part of the GB indoor teams at the London Olympics. All players at some stage had professional contracts in Europe.
The idea was to channel the top young players with academic credentials into a regular training and competition programme. The ‘ideal’ new programme would be for a number of universities to have the same offer with more players training and playing regularly in the Super8s. This is separate to the ‘participation’ goals.
I don’t know the details of the programme. But based on the Schools Academies there will be a rigorous process of application (universities to bid for ‘Academy’ status) and selection to ensure the right coaches will be appointed and a sustainable recruitment and training system will be offered.
For a small federation Volleyball England had a good return from investment in the Development Squads. The aim is to replicate and grow the model. I’m interested to see how this develops…
There’s been a bit more information posted up by Volleyball England here. Interestingly, at that point no school was in at the “gold” level yet. I’m not entirely sure what exactly that means, though.
Will this create an NCAA equivalent?
It will indeed be interesting to see how things develop. Creating this sort of academy structure at the university level would in many ways make for a structure not unlike NCAA Division I or II volleyball in the States. I speak from the perspective of scholarships and linking sport and education in a way that isn’t really done in Europe. There isn’t really professional volleyball in England, at least now how most would think of it. At the same time, basically every USA national team player comes through the NCAA pipeline. That being the case, this new structure might not be a bad idea.
As I wrote before, though, there are some serious issues.