With the arrival of a new Chief Executive and deputy at Volleyball England significant changes are
underway. There appears to be a desire to re-connect with the individual players, clubs, areas and
regions. As one of the first steps in this process, Chair of GMVA Bryan Youlden was invited to attend a
Zoom meeting with other officials from County and regions across England as the first of a regular
quarterly catch up.
VE Chair Charlie Ford has a background as a basketball player and continues to coach a junior girls
basketball team. As such, he has a close affinity with grass roots sport. Most recently he was Chief
Executive at British Boxing and formerly occupied a similar position at British Basketball. His new deputy
Guin Batten is a former Olympic rower.
Charlie has embarked upon a series of discussions with various people within the sport and has received
a clear message that the connection between the centre and the membership needs re-establishing. He
has therefore announced a commitment to opening channels of communication. GMVA Chair Bryan was
the last Chair of the Regional sub-group and since he stepped down some 3 years ago, many felt that
there was no longer any voice for the regional and area associations in our sport.
As a result, a number of new initiatives are underway based on a commitment to listen to the
membership and to act in accordance with their wishes. There is a desire to be more supportive and
responsive to the needs of the grass roots. It is accepted that this will take time to implement, but the first
steps have been announced as follows:
1. The first step is the appointment of a new Community Lead Stakeholder. A new position has
been advertised for a dedicated person to work closely with the regions, counties and area
2. A further role is being developed to support sitting volleyball as there is a concern that that
division of our sport needs further focus. There is also an opportunity for an area or region to
offer to take a lead in initiating a local sitting league or competition structure. If there is any
interest for GMVA clubs, please let me know and I will table our interest. Whoever is selected will
benefit by way of equipment and other support.
3. Digital transformation – It is accepted that Volleyzone is clunky and needs improvement. An
agreement has therefore been entered into Sport Lomo and Seven League who will supply a
new digital platform which will substantially upgrade areas such as membership and
competitions management. It is promised that there will be lots of consultation and teach points
to support us all going forward. The platform should also help local league administration if we
want to take advantage and participate. All costs are covered and we can offer to be a pilot if we
4. VE sanctioned events – An agreement has been reached with our insurers so that all VE
sanctioned events will have full insurance cover.
5. Officiating – The lack of referees is a substantial problem in areas such as Greater Manchester.
A review is underway with 10 areas of focus having been identified for further consideration.
Ideas include a new lower-level qualification, a review of referee’s fees and other ideas.
5. Inter- Regional Championships – The importance of this competition as a pathway in junior
development is recognised and a further review is underway to look at enhancing the
6. Coach Award – A new coach award is being announced to replace the old Level 2 award.
7. Facilities – The Department of Education is revamping and upgrading 239 schools including their
sports facilities. VE is keen to engage with Government to ensure the needs of volleyball are
So, some interesting and positive new developments, but where do we go from here to build on this?
In February, consultation with the volleyball community will extend with feedback forms issued to a
number of stakeholders. Based on the responses, a road map will be developed for the next 2-4 years.
March will see a plan finalised for the next year. Communications updates will be issued and the website
April will result in the start of delivery of the phase 2 delivery of the Game Plan along with further
There will be quarterly meetings with the regions and counties to continue the communication channel
newly opened. I have also asked for North West Region and other local associations to be invited.
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