Last season, I, had my most successful season ever with City of Edinburgh, winning 24 out of 25 games. At the same time I had to juggle my volleyball with my probation training year as a Physical Education teacher in Hawick. It was a tough year with a lot of travelling but the results made it very enjoyable. This season I wanted a new challenge.
Last season Remy Sicsic came to Edinburgh to improve his English. He joined City of Edinburgh and as he improved his English we learned some French words! He became a good friend and in the summer I spent 3 weeks in Cannes on holiday, staying at his parent’s house. They were wonderful hosts and I loved the time here. Remy was introduced to volleyball at A.S Cannes Volleyball Club, who like C.O.E, have an outstanding youth setup with many different teams from 5 years old and upwards. He very kindly acted as my agent- paid in beer money. He managed to get me a trial for the National 3 side, so 2 weeks after my summer holiday I returned to Cannes for a trial.
After three days training and a team bonding day, I was offered a place in the team- I was delighted! I get on well with the rest of the team and the coach is extremely knowledgeable while his training is always different and challenging. After the transfer was completed through FIVB, I realised as sad as I was to leave C.O.E, this was an opportunity of a lifetime.
While I play for the National 3 team I won’t get paid to play. However, I train twice as much as last year, I receive a ton of kit, and have also been given 3 teams to coach which will earn me enough money to feed me. The biggest plus has been the rent-free flat I have for the year. It is in a ‘Centre Parcs’ type of resort, with several other players living onsite. The flat is perfect- 5 minutes from the beach, 20 metres from the pool, 10 minutes from training, tennis courts etc etc! I am very lucky.
Every day my French improves but it is still very difficult. Coaching is interesting and like a football manager, I do a lot of talking with my arms and legs! I coach Monday to Thursday so there are lots of opportunities to improve.
We have played 2 friendly matches and won both, one against a national 2 team. We play our home games at Palais des Victoires- a new 6000 seated stadium only for volleyball- it is simply stunning. Our next friendly is away to Monaco, slightly more appealing than Aberdeen away! Our season starts at the end of September. The clubs professional side is one of the best in the country, with many of the national team players in it- I look forward to watching them play.
The attitude to sport out here is exceptional. The facilities, weather, financial backing are obviously advantageous. There are about 6 beach courts which are kept all year for people to play for free. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have that in Portobello, St Andrews, and Troon? Given that France has a population 10 times that of Scotland, it is not surprising that more people play volleyball. The opportunities for children to achieve and do something with their volleyball are vast and consequently lots of youngsters play. I wish Scotland had the same financial backing and opportunities.
I absolutely love it here in the French Riviera. The ‘Cote D’Azur’- because of the blue skies and sun. The people have been great to me, and I am very lucky to have this opportunity. Like my report from Russia, I need to thank all my family and my previous coaches, without them I wouldn’t be here.
I would encourage all young players to stick at the hard work. With the right attitude this is possible for anyone, and it is so amazing that I can strongly recommend it to everyone.