The 2015 International Children’s Games in Alkmaar was the first ICG to include beach volleyball. Edinburgh sent boys and girls beach volleyball teams who made history by being the first Scottish teams to compete in a beach volleyball competition at the ICG.
The preparation of the beach athletes included participation in the SVA Beach Volleyball Regional Development Sessions at Portobello in May and June 2015. The athletes also participated in an additional 12 ICG specific beach volleyball training sessions and participated in the Scottish Student Sport Beach Championships in April and the Scottish Beach Junior Regional Championships in June.
Teams participating in Alkmaar:
Girls – Alkmaar (Holland), Bangkok (Thailand), Brantford (Canada), Edinburgh (Scotland), Kaunos (Lithuania), Lausanne (Switzerland), Los Angeles (USA), Zalec (Slovenia)
Boys – Alkmaar (Holland), Bangkok (Thailand), Brantford (Canada), Contra Costa County (USA), Edinburgh (Scotland), Lausanne (Switzerland), Los Angeles (USA), Mislanja (Slovenia), Sparta (Greece)
Results in Alkmaar
The girls were pooled with the eventual gold and bronze medal winners (Los Angeles and Bangkok). The two games against Los Angeles and Bangkok provided excellent experience and inspiration to the Edinburgh girls although losing both games 0-2. The girls learned from these games and completed their pool with a 21-17, 19-21, 15-4 win over Lausanne. With 1 win and 2 losses the girls were in the B pool on Sunday where they secured a 21-19, 21-8 win over Zalec in the B semi-final and pushed Kaunos to 19-19 in the B final before losing out 19-21, 14-21
The boys had an even more difficult pool with the eventual gold and silver medal teams, Los Angeles and Bangkok. The Bangkok and Los Angeles games were also an excellent learning experience where the boys reached new levels of play despite the 3-21, 5-21 score line vs. Bangkok and 10-21, 2-21 vs Los Angeles. In their remaining pool game the boys faced a tall and strong team from Brantford in Canada. Their superior serving, passing and tactics allowed Edinburgh to reach a 1-0 lead, but the Canadians were too strong in the end and came back to win 1-2 (21-16, 15-21, 10-15). This also left the boys in the lower pool in day 2. They were able to improve their level of play as a result of what they had learned on day 1 and secured 2 wins over Contra Costa County 21-10, 21-15 and played their best volleyball of the tournament to win out a hard fought battle over Lausanne 21-19, 22-20.
The philosophy of the ICG is that sport brings people together. This was certainly true as the Edinburgh Beach Volleyball athletes got the opportunity to meet and compete against other young athletes from Asia, Europe and North America.
As someone who has coached indoor volleyball for 20 years, I have loved the opportunity to get outside on the beach and have a different coaching challenge. I have been very pleased and surprised with the improvements in the indoor volleyball of the four beach athletes since they have started training and playing on the beach. They are now faster, stronger and read the game better than before they played beach volleyball.
It was interesting to note that for most of the European teams, including Alkmaar who won the gold medal of INDOOR girls volleyball, that their club has a year round programme of indoor volleyball and beach volleyball. There is no specialization before age 18 and so their young athletes benefit from both sports and a year round volleyball programme.
On behalf of the athletes and myself, I wish to thank City of Edinburgh Council for entering Edinburgh into the ICG and giving the opportunity for the sport of Beach Volleyball. I also wish to thank Mel Coutts, Children and Families, City of Edinburgh Council and Lynne Beattie, RDO for their support for making this project happen, and also thank you to Capital Athletics and City of Edinburgh Volleyball Club who sponsored the kit for the athletes. And finally but certainly not least thanks to Heather Darling as Head of Delegation for organizing the trip and making sure that all of the Edinburgh athletes got to Alkmaar, navigated our way through several challenges while there and got us all back safely again.
Beach Volleyball Coaching Staff
International Children’s Games Alkmaar 2015