Scottish Volleyball should be proud of it’s junior women’s team. This group were in tremendous form last weekend – the 13th to the 15th January 2011 in Malta and clinched a place in the finals of the Small Nations European Championships on their first ever entry in the competition.
The task was, put simply, survive a match against one of the best small nations – Cyprus and win a couple of games against Malta and Northern Ireland and qualify for the European Small Countries Final at Easter 2012. Easier said than done.
Well the girls did better than that! The team at times matched Cyprus point for point through extended periods of the game. Thereafter the girls comfortably disposed of both a talented Malta team and a resilient Northern Ireland. “Job done!”
Hours of training and playing matches in the two months leading up to the qualifying tournament were followed by an arduous drive to Manchester the night before our early morning flight to Malta. We then had our first training session in Malta the same afternoon. This training was in the championship hall which was more than half an hour from our accommodation. The next day we also had training then finally, a Scottish Junior side stood on a European Championship court for the first time ever. And the rest is history!
The Cypriot management spoke highly of us throughout the tournament and the CEV web site carries comments from the Maltese tournament organiser, saying that the Scots had been technically and tactically strong throughout the match. The performance of the players was highlighted with recognition when Sophie Hunter received Server of the tournament and Claire Ramage was awarded best Hitter. However all of the girls would agree that the biggest recognition of all is that Scotland are is now in finals for the Small Countries European Championships.
To see my full article on the girls’ trip to Malta – Click here
Firstly, to the Scottish Volleyball Association and Chief Executive Margaret Ann Fleming who had the confidence and belief in this group to send them to the championships. The principal financial sponsors Scottish Sports Aid and the Robertson Trust. A personal thanks goes to Ian Goswell, Liz Clarke and Richard Jump, coaches of the North of England team, who provided us with scrimage matches. The players would like to thank their parents, guardians, school coaches and club coaches who have supported them immensely from the very beginning. Finally to my assistant coach Tom Rooney and team manager Aileen Hall. These two people through their good humour and organisation, managing to remove the stress off my shoulders throughout the whole event. Finally, and this really is the last word….there is a massive thank you due to the girls for their immense playing contribution and to their tremendous attitude throughout the preparation period and their stay in Malta. I am so very proud of them all.