Teams from across the country are competing in a national volleyball championship in Kettering today (Sunday, February 24).
The Under-16 and Under-18 Championships Last Eights is being held at Kettering Leisure Village and teams from as far away as Wessex are competing for a place in the national finals, which will be held at the leisure village on April 20-21.
Volleyball England has had its base at the centre for several years and the national squads use the facilities for training on a regular basis. Sanjib Sahota, the national competitions and events manager for Volleyball England, said: “We have a great relationship with the company that owns the facility. There has been a lot of investment by the company and Volleyball England to give the centre facilities of an international standard.
“It is the hub of volleyball in the country and Kettering should be very proud to have the home of volleyball here.”
The centre has four courts as well as beach courts and April’s national cup finals will be played on the surface that was used in the Olympics, which will be brought to Kettering for the weekend.
Sanjib added: “Since the Olympics we’ve seen an upturn in interest in volleyball. Lots of people experienced volleyball for the first time at the Olympics and it is our job to get them to continue to enjoy it.
“Anyone can play, that’s the beauty of it. It’s a very sociable, non-contact team sport.”
The centre hosts everything from junior events to performance to sitting volleyball competitions and will host the NEVZA Under-17 Championships later in the year. This will see teams from countries such as Iceland, Norway and Sweden coming to Kettering to compete against each other.
The competition at this weekend’s championships was fierce. The coach of the Chadwell Heath Under-16 Boys, Jack Molyneux, said: “My boys showed real true character and great skills. I am really proud of the hard work all the players put in and every single one contributed.”
The coach of Tameside Under-16 Girls, who made it through to the finals in April, Richard Jump, said: “I am really pleased. We are now looking for our fifth consecutive win. It is the 14th time in 15 years we have made the final. As always, we are looking forward to it.”
For more details go www.volleyballengland.org
To find out more about playing volleyball go to www.gospike.net