The School Games programme may now be a regular fixture in the calendar with an established programme but not many years have been as emotive, as eventful and as successful as the Sainsbury’s School Games 2014.
The Scottish teams got off to a flyer in the competition, as Scotland West Girls and Scotland East Boys overcame England, with some outstanding performances from the Scottish contingent.
Day two ended with 3 victories over England and all four of our teams in finals. The players were buzzing, the coaching staff were buzzing, the parents were buzzing and everyone was geared up to support team Scotland to perform in the finals.
The first games were the Girls Gold and Bronze medal matches. West were taking on England Cadets while the East were taking on England Juniors. In the Bronze medal match the East girls managed to find some of the nice patterns they started to show on Day two, they ran England close but were unable to put enough pressure on their more experienced opposition.
In the girls gold medal match England Cadets came out very strong and took the first set 25-14. Our girls started to find their rhythm and Corrie Gwynne took found some nice shots and setter Laura Milliken was able to find a more consistent set. The team found themselves 5 points down near the end of the set but up stepped Rachel Morrison again from the service line with another run of serves (including two aces) as the team found themselves with set point but it wasn’t meant to be as England edged out the set 28-26. The performance level, commitment and fearlessness of the young players was a privilege to witness.
It was then over to the boys squads for their medal matches. Scotland East were up against England Cadets in the Bronze medal match and the team found themselves 19-20 down but on the back of a strong serve Jonny Black was able to find some great shots to give the team set point. From there the team went from strength to strength and secured a 2nd straight sets victory against England Cadets and won the bronze medals.
The last game to finish was the West boys in the gold medal match against England Juniors. After a cracking match in the group stage it was all set-up for a great show and the guys didn’t disappoint. England Juniors found another level and were able to operate an impressive game plan but our young guys fought hard and pushed them all the way. After a very impressive tournament it was a shame not to cap it with a gold but the boys should be immensely proud of the level of consistent volleyball they were able to produce throughout the tournament.
There was some individual recognition as Rachel Morrison, Raveen Gill, Mark McLaughlin and Rhys Arthur all picked up Super Six awards. Congratulations to them.
It wasn’t just our players and coaching staff that were involved in the School Games, the brilliant photos were taken from Lynne Marshall – Volleyball Photos. The Referee Delegate was our very own Grant McIntyre, who oversaw the provision of officiating, which included four Scottish Referees; Albert Jaster, Jamie Salvin, Matthew Russell and Kevin Amos, as well as NTOs Artur Kopacz, Hannah Lawrie and Jean Bruce. Well done to you all.
The development of the players since the trial stage has been unbelievable and this doesn’t happen by chance. It’s no secret that we aren’t able to offer the same opportunities that the English players have, however, the quality and dedication of coaching staff that the players receive pays dividends when it comes to this stage. A massive credit is due to the coaching staff and especially the team managers for the environment that they create to allow our young players to express themselves.
The amount of parents who were there, especially for the entire duration, was impressive. They created a great atmosphere in the stands.
It may be the end of the school games for this year but it is the start of the season, it’s now up to all 48 players to go back to their clubs and schools and share their experiences and help encourage their teammates. For those who want to make it to Manchester 2015, the hard work starts again now.
Congratulations to all involved with this year’s Sainsbury’s School Games Programme.
Club & Participation Development Officer