Out of Africa

Barry Chambers finds out about volleyball in SA

South Africa VolleyballHow I started playing volleyball in South Africa sounds a bit like a joke: ‘There was a Scotsman, German, Dutchman and American in a bar’ …… Mitchell’s Ale House to be precise and funnily enough, Mitchell’s is a Scottish themed pub. I don’t recall exactly how the subject of volleyball came up, but it turned out the German (Nico) played for a club in Cape Town and invited me along. After a few phone calls and emails, I had the club’s training days and times. The training venue, Athlone Civic Centre, was around 12km from the centre of Cape Town and situated in the shadows of Athlone Stadium, home AJAX Cape Town Football Club.

Preseason training starts around March. The first piece of silverware up for grabs is the Top 4 tournament. The Top 4 tournament consists of the last season’s top four ranked teams playing in a ‘round robin’ format, with the top two going on to play in a final match. By the time I had joined, my team had already played in the round robin and had finished in second place. I went along to watch the final between my club WPSAPS (Western Province South African Police Services) and UWC (University of Western Cape). It was a close game with UWC taking the honours 3-1. Next up (and still in the preseason) is the Top 32 tournament. The Top 32 tournament is made up of the top 4 teams from the previous season from every province in South Africa. The tournament is six days long and this year was hosted in Bloemfontein, around 16-hours drive from Cape Town. We flew there!

South Africa VolleyballEarly on we managed to get a comfortable win in the “round of 16” stage. We went on to face UWC again in the quarterfinals. This match was once again a close encounter with us coming out on top to seal our semi-final clash against the University of Johannesburg. Unfortunately, the final was a step to far for us and we went down 3-2 with the final set going to the wire and University of Johannesburg taking it, 15-13. The University of Johannesburg would go on to win the tournament, with us winning our 3rd/4th play-off to finish the tournament in 3rd place.

Finally, around May it was time for the season to start. The league consists of 8 teams of mixed ability – think of taking the top four teams in the Scottish 1st Division and placing them in a league with four teams from the 3rd Division/District League and you will roughly have the range in ability. Matches are played midweek on training nights and is not uncommon for matches to start over an hour later than scheduled, meaning sometimes games do not finish until around midnight. With the match days and times varying from week to week, it is hard to keep a consistent starting six and sometime even trying to get six players seems an impossible task. By the end of the season, we had 17 players registered for the team they are as follows:

Jacques Sasman South Africa, former National Team Player)
Barry Chambers (Scotland)
Canaan Mbwembwe (Zimbabwe)
Chris Lenz (Germany)
Frank Haunauer (Germany)
Nico Fischer (Germany)
Ivan Solomons (South Africa, National Team Player)
acques Oberholzer (South Africa, National Team Player)
Abe Louis (South Africa, former National Team Player)
Clint Schutters (South Africa, Student National Team Player)
Elton Baron (South Africa, the only police officer in the team)
Giovanni Bake (South Africa)
Peter Wagner (Germany)
Kyle Abrahams (South Africa)
Jerome Frederricks (South Africa, National Team Player)
Ricky Stevens (South Africa, Coach/Player and former National Team Player)
John Delport (South Africa)
Team Manager
Jannine Smit

Beach Volleyball South AfricaThe season finished around August and we managed to clinch third place. Unfortunately, we lost a couple of games when our national team players were away on training camps and World Championship qualifying matches or our final position might have been better. Overall, my experience of volleyball in South Africa has been extremely enjoyable and I have made some great friends along the way. We are now in the middle of the beach season, and I have to say: beach volleyball is a lot more enjoyable in temperatures of 20°C to 35°C than the gale force winds of Troon beach.

Ek sal jou sien,
Barry Chambers


Jerome FredericksWestern Province Volleyball website
Volleyball South Africa website

View from Camps Bay beach just a short walk from my house.
London 2012 hopeful Jerome Fredericks