FIVB Hero at UNOSDP Leadership Camp knows a thing or two about being an underdog

Lynne Beattie in DohaDoha, Qatar, January 14, 2013 – Great Britain’s Lynne Beattie headlined a press conference in Doha Monday as she and Sherif El Shemerly, FIVB Instructor and former Egyptian Men’s National Volleyball Team Coach, helped launch a UNOSDP Youth Leadership Camp designed to encourage the use of sport to promote grassroots social development in poor and marginalised communities around the world. The FIVB is partnering with the UNOSDP to provide training and tutorship for the programme’s young leaders.

On the camp’s first day, Beattie spoke to reporters about getting involved in the programme.

“I think this is an absolutely fantastic initiative,” said Beattie. “As I have learned over the past few years, sport is a very powerful tool for bringing people and communities together. Sport doesn’t just keep people fit – it’s fun, it teaches life values, it enhances people’s self-confidence and it encourages positive relationships. Ultimately, sport can improve well-being and happiness for everyone involved in it. But it needs people to drive it – people right in the heart of their community. That is what our young leaders are here to learn about, and in doing so they can reach and inspire an unbelievable number of people back home, bring their neighbours together, and help build a community to be proud of.

Beattie said she had been overjoyed to get the opportunity to contribute to the Youth Leadership Camp programme. She says that, to her, a hero is someone who is respected because they have made a difference in other people’s lives. She wants to make a difference to the young leaders she meets in Doha, and considers volleyball an ideal tool to help them improve their neighbourhoods.

“I can’t think of a better sport than volleyball to promote the development of peace in the community,” said Beattie. “The flexibility of volleyball is what makes it a great sport for the community. It is a non-contact sport that you can play in twos, fours or sixes, indoors or outdoors, and all you need is a ball and a net.  Volleyball really is a sport for everyone. Back home we have an initiative called Go Spike with Volleyball England, where we send a piece of tape and a blow-up ball out to novices to the sport. That’s enough for them to make their own net and play whenever and wherever they want. It’s that easy.

“But the best part about it is the team aspect.  As part of a team you are encouraged to communicate, integrate and celebrate with other people – young and old, male and female, disabled and able-bodied, white, black and ethnic minorities.”

Over the opening three days of the UN Youth Leadership Camp, the FIVB will introduce the participants to volleyball through both theory and practice. Beattie and El Shemerly will teach the youngsters how to organise and execute grassroots programmes to support development and peace, and how to stay involved with volleyball even where infrastructure is lacking.

The programme is bringing together 29 youth aged 18-25, from Africa and the Middle East, all of whom are actively involved in sport.

“These young leaders are role models in their communities,” said Beattie. “We all share the common goal of inspiring others, so the idea for FIVB to partner this initiative is very fitting. I hope I can have a positive impact on everyone involved and spread the message that anything is possible. I would love to install the belief into these young leaders that they are amazing people capable of inspiring their home communities, bringing them together in peace and harmony through volleyball – what I consider to be the most amazing sport ever!”

Beattie also considers her experience with Great Britain to be a perfect example for her charges.

“We had to train harder than any of the other teams competing and we had to raise our own funds in order to train, eat and sleep in preparation for the biggest opportunity that sport could present. The odds were against us and people doubted us as a team capable of competing against the best teams in the world. But we had a dream, and the fact that it was a shared dream is what made it possible. And now as Olympians we have all gone back to our own communities and shared our own Olympic stories with them, hopefully inspiring them to take up volleyball and believe in their dreams. I want to share this message with the young leaders: the message that if you believe in something that much, then it can become a reality if you work hard at it.

The FIVB has a strong history of development having close relationships with various humanitarian agencies in the past – the UNHCR, refugee camps, etc. Since 2011, it has been working closely with the United Nations in an effort to support the attainment and awareness of the UN Millennium Development Goals, as well as to further harness the power of volleyball to bring about positive social change worldwide.